Grocery shoppers and drivers working for Instacart went on strike nationwide on Monday to demand better protections — including hazard pay and expanded paid sick leave — from the grocery delivery company, as the coronavirus continues to spread across the country.
Thousands of Instacart grocery shoppers stopped responding to requests for deliveries starting at 8 a.m. local time, insisting they will not go back to work until the company provides them with protective equipment such as hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, hazard pay of $5 per order, and expanded paid sick leave to cover those with health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the coronavirus so they can afford to stay home.
“They send their CEO in San Francisco home, but they’re doing nothing for the backbone of their company. Without shoppers, they’re nothing,” said Sarah Polito, a 28-year-old part-time shopper for Instacart and strike organizer in Newark, New York. She is one of more than 200,000 “full-service” shoppers who are not employees of Instacart, but contractors with limited benefits.
In response to workers’ demands and their threat to strike, the company announced that a third party would manufacture and distribute hand sanitizer to shoppers. It did not address workers’ requests for hazard pay.
The company’s coronavirus-related paid sick leave of 14 days only applies to workers who have been infected with the virus or have been ordered to quarantine — providing nothing to workers who are immunocompromised or have respiratory conditions or other health issues that make COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, particularly dangerous for them.
“They should not be risking themselves to make ends meet,” Polito said of more vulnerable workers. “Instacart has the money and the means to do this.”
Asked for comment on its not providing expanded paid leave, an Instacart spokesperson pointed HuffPost back to its 14-day leave policy for...