August 9, 2020

Is Instacart’s wider rollout of Pickup an attempt to sidestep labor laws?

Earlier today, Instacart more widely rolled out its Pickup product, which enables customers to retrieve groceries directly from stores. The move comes just a day after Instacart shoppers unveiled their latest action to #DeleteInstacart, another step in the ongoing series of protests against the grocery startup’s wage and tipping practices.
Next Monday, Instacart workers are asking customers and the general public to tweet at Instacart, telling the company they will delete Instacart until the company meets their demands. They wrote:
We have fought for fair pay, but Instacart continues to lower it. This current protest only has one small demand — to raise the app’s default tip amount back to 10%. This is the same default setting Instacart had originally, but the company has repeatedly lowered it (as well as resorted to outright theft) to take it away from us. Combined with their recent bonus-cutting act of retaliation, workers are now bleeding out of both sides — our pay is too low AND the default tip amount is too low.
In light of a new California gig worker protections law, which Instacart opposes, the greater push into pickup services could be a way for the company to beef up its argument that gig workers are free from the control of Instacart. If so, Instacart’s efforts line up with Uber’s recent steps to ensure its drivers will be able to remain independent contractors.

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