A group representing thousands of part-time grocery delivery workers called for a worker’s strike on Monday as they demand hazard pay and additional protective gear in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s a double whammy,” Aven Deen, who used to work for Instacart, a grocery delivery business, said. “You are going into a store, then you go to someone’s home and you’re interacting with people. Not only are you being paid pennies, but you are risking your life.”
Employees of the company have raised concerns about safety and wages since the coronavirus pandemic began earlier this month. The group Gig Workers Collective called for a nationwide walk-off of delivery workers on Monday to draw attention to their demands for more gear and better pay.
“What we are doing is dangerous and the company knows it,” Chloe Grozdina, who works for Instacart and gets groceries at a Chicago-area Mariano’s, said.
Instacart says that it is implementing new safety measures to protect employees, including manufacturing and distributing its own hand sanitizer. The company says it will also boost bonuses for some of its shoppers, and will extend sick or quarantine pay by 30 days in the event any of its employees get sick.
According to The Verge, the company is also offering 14 days of paid sick leave to any part-time workers or shoppers who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are told to self-quarantine as a result of the virus.
Other companies have also offered employees additional incentives and job protections during the crisis. Whole Foods says in a statement that employees who test positive for COVID-19 or are quarantined because of the virus have access to up to two weeks of paid time off. Workers are also receiving an additional $2 per hour in hourly base pay, and the company has also increased overtime pay for employees.
“We have taken extensive measures to keep people safe, and in addition to social distancing, enhanced deep cleaning and crowd control measures, we continue rolling out new safety protocols in our stores to protect our Team Members who are on the front lines serving our customers,” the company said in a statement.
While it’s unclear how many Instacart employees participated in the walk-off, some, including Chicago resident Tonkia Mingo, said they couldn’t afford to join the protest.
“I have older customers who can’t come outside, so I help them as well as myself,” she said.