LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/CNN) – An unknown number of workers for the grocery-delivery giant Instacart were planning to strike Monday over what they say is Instacart’s inability to implement safety protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic that has brought a surge of business to the company.
In response to the complaints, Instacart Sunday told CBS News in a statement that it had distributed new health and safety supplies to its shoppers, including providing them with disinfectant, sanitation stations and hand sanitizer.
The hand sanitizer – which Instacart is getting from a third-party manufacturer — will be available for shoppers to obtain for free via an Instacart website going up this week, the company said.
Instacart also says it has installed a new tip feature in its app to make it easier for customers to give shoppers bigger tips.
Last week, the company announced plans to bring on another 300,000 “full service shoppers” in North America over the next three months to service demand.
The strike, which is being called for by Instacart shoppers and a newly formed non-profit called Gig Workers Collective, has a list of demands including providing workers with safety items including hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and sprays, hazard pay, and an expansion of its coronavirus pay to include those with underlying health conditions. The workers specified in a Medium post that they wanted an extra $5 per order and a default tip of at least 10% of the order total.
The company has offered up to 14 days of pay for any hourly employee or full-service shopper who is diagnosed with coronavirus. After Gig Workers Collective posted demands Friday, Instacart extended the deadline to apply for these benefits to May 6. It also added contactless alcohol delivery and additional bonuses for its in-store shoppers, who are employees, but not for “full service shoppers” who are treated as independent contractors.
The Gig Workers Collective called Instacart’s response to their demands “a sick joke.”
At least four grocery store workers in Southern California tested positive for coronavirus this past week, including a Costco in the Marina del Rey area, Sprouts in Tustin, Gelsons in Pacific Palisades and Vallarta Supermarket in Canoga Park.
Here is a full statement Instacart provided to CBS News Sunday:
“The health and safety of our entire community — shoppers, customers, and employees — is our first priority. Our goal is to offer a safe and flexible earnings opportunity to shoppers, while also proactively taking the appropriate precautionary measures to operate safely. We want to underscore that we absolutely respect the rights of shoppers to provide us feedback and voice their concerns. It’s a valuable way for us to continuously make improvements to the shopper experience and we’re committed to supporting this important community during this critical time. We’ve made a number of significant enhancements to our products and offerings over the last few weeks that demonstrate Instacart’s unwavering commitment to prioritizing the health and safety of the entire Instacart community. And, we will continue to make additional updates over the coming days, weeks and months.”
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