These days, simply leaving your home to buy food is a gamble. That’s why countless people are calling services like Instacart, which delivers groceries, to spare them a trip to the supermarket. I’ve been an Instacart shopper for nearly two years in the Newark/New York area and I’ve never experienced such stress, chaos and craziness. My stomach goes into knots before going into stores because I never know if today will be the day I contract Covid-19 or, worse, spread it to a customer. That is why many of us are striking for better working conditions, including paid sick leave.
Right now, contract workers who shop and deliver orders to customers’ homes are risking our health by doing our jobs. Hand sanitizer, wipes and hazard pay should be given to anyone who is working right now under these conditions, but that is not the case. While Instacart has no problem giving these protections to so-called “in-store shoppers” – Instacart employees who are based in stores, and get orders ready for customers for pick up – they have completely looked past the contract workers like me, called full service shoppers, who travel to the store, shop the order and deliver it to customers.
Without shoppers, Instacart is nothing but an app. We spend our days in and out of stores so that customers can stay home and not risk their health. We deal with the crowds, out-of-stock items, item limits and upset customers when their products aren’t all available.
The company reportedly wants to hire 300,000 more shoppers to be put at risk instead of paying shoppers who already work for the company fair wages. (We have no set hourly pay. We get paid per order.) It’s not rare for shoppers like me to see triple batches (three orders in one) that can pay as low as $7 all together, including the 60c per mile Instacart says they pay us from store to customer. Going out for such little pay is a real slap in the face. To think that Instacart ever thought we deserved such low pay is disgusting but especially now with this pandemic, you would think they would pay us better. But that’s simply not the case.