The gig economy so far seems to be great for companies that want to scale but lousy for workers that want to make any money. As such, gig economy workers have been rising up in protest over the past year, with the latest example being Instacart, as its “Shoppers” (the people who actually get and deliver the groceries) launched a three day strike yesterday over how tips are implemented.
An Instacart strike has been looming for a while, with the reasons for the protest spelled out by Instacart Shopper Vanessa Bain in a blog post published last month. In said post, Bain writes:
On November 3–5, thousands of Instacart Shoppers will be holding a workers’ protest. We are demanding that Instacart restore the default tip amount to at least 10% and to remove the confusing “service fee” which the company pockets for themselves.
Bain goes on in the post to describe the ways Instacart has changed its payment structure over the years. Net/net, Bain and other protesters are looking to raise the default tip amount from 5 percent to 10 percent. According to a different blog post from “Instacart Workers” directed towards Instacart Founder and CEO, Apoorva Mehta, this is the fourth consecutive year for Shopper walkouts. That post too goes on to provide a litany of ways in which Instacart Shoppers’ pay has been futzed with, seemingly to the detriment of workers each time.
Right now we don’t know how many people are participating in the protests. Fast Company reports that there are 130,000 Instacart Shoppers in North America, and doubted that this protest would cause the company much harm.
But the issue over gig worker pay is a recurring one in the world of food delivery. In August, DoorDash announced a new pay structure for its Dashers after public backlash over its tipping collection policy. And in May, Postmates faced protests from its couriers after they said a corporate change in payments resulted in incomes being slashed by 30 percent.
All of these protests come at a time when California passed AB 5, a law looking to reclassify gig workers, giving them additional rights and benefits. Companies like DoorDash and Uber, both built on gig labor, are looking to be exempt from the new law when it takes effect in January.
Food delivery is only going to get bigger, so it’s more important than ever for consumers to educate themselves on all of the costs associated with this new convenience.