A group of Instacart workers went on strike over demands that the company provide them with various protections against COVID-19. The workers, who are considered independent contractors, have asked the company to provide them with hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes while increasing their pay by $5 per order.
The strike comes after Instacart, which provides home delivery of items from the grocery store, announced plans to hire 300,000 workers across the country to deal with a large influx of new customers who are stuck at home during the global coronavirus pandemic.
"Actions speak louder than words," Instacart worker Sarah Polito told NPR. "You can tell us that we're these household heroes and that you appreciate us. But you're not actually, they're not showing it. They're not taking these steps to give us the precautions. They're not giving us hazard pay."
Instacart said they are working to distribute hand sanitizer to their army of workers, and would increase the default tip suggested when customers place an order. It is unclear how many workers went on strike or how this strike is impacting the company's business operations.
Instacart isn't the only company to see workers go on strike over their handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Around 100 workers at an Amazon plant in Staten Island, New York, walked off the job on Monday (March 30), while some employees who work for Whole Foods Market, which is owned by Amazon, are calling for a "sick out" on Tuesday. They are demanding guaranteed paid leave for workers who must self-isolate, health care coverage for part-time and seasonal workers, and a pay increase.
"What we're seeing right now are workers demanding and winning some temporary wage increases," Rebecca Kolins Givan, an associate professor at Rutgers University's School of Management and Labor Relations, told NBC News. "Many grocery workers have secured $2 an hour of additional hazard pay. They're actually able to increase their wages, even though there's this precipitous increase in unemployment."
To keep up to date on the latest news about the coronavirus and to understand what you need to stay safe and healthy, check out the Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction podcast from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
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