Instacart’s Pathetic Attempt to Buy Good PR Neglects Workers

This afternoon, Instacart announced that they plan to provide shoppers with hand sanitizer, masks, and thermometers. At least four different groups of In-Store Shoppers have received notice this week that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 on the job, so this is a step in the right direction, but still a far cry from adequate. Something that is not yet clear is how many sets of supplies they have secured, and when Shoppers will receive them.

Instacart did add hand sanitizer to their internal online store for Shoppers this week, but it immediately sold out. It is not clear how much Instacart actually has on hand, or when it will be distributed to Shoppers.

Even if Instacart manages to get its act together in regards to this promise of PPE, their response is still not enough to properly care for workers. In other industries, some workers who do have proper PPE are still contracting COVID-19 or spreading it despite their best efforts. Some Instacart Shoppers, even under the best of conditions and with PPE, will still contract COVID-19. There is still no meaningful progress in protections for the Shoppers who will fall ill. We are still without any sort of hazard pay, without accessible sick leave, without quarantine pay for those with a doctor’s note, and the in-app default tip amount is still not 10%.

The reality is, this is the cheapest way for Instacart to attempt to generate good PR. This move was calculated on some spreadsheet, rather than in Apoorva Mehta’s moral conscience. Instacart’s goal here is simply to make a bad story go away as quickly and cheaply as possible, and hope the public buys into it. Not a chance.

We are currently collecting information regarding a number of Instacart-related COVID-19 exposure events, and will attempt to be in touch with Shoppers in those areas as we learn more. As we do that, we are still waiting for Instacart to provide the following:

  1. Hazard pay — an extra $5 per order and defaulting the in-app tip amount to at least 10% of the order total.
  2. An expansion of pay for workers impacted by COVID-19 — anyone who has a doctor’s note for either a preexisting condition that’s a known risk factor or requiring a self-quarantine. Workers who must stay home due to conditions that put them at high risk are still not getting sick pay.

The outpouring of solidarity our Shoppers have received has been amazing, and we appreciate every supportive message we’ve been receiving. Apologies to anyone whose email hasn’t gotten a response, we’ve been juggling the practical work of organizing and supporting Shoppers with the media inquires and requests for information that have come through. Though at times it’s overwhelming, it just goes to show that this movement is very strong and that what we need is within reach if we just keep pushing for it.

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