Gig workers who deliver groceries on the app Instacart are angry—and they want you to be, too.
Many of the app's 130,000 workers claim to have seen their pay drop by more than 50 percent in 2019 alone, as the company has sought to lower costs and appease its investors.
Workers are now calling for a national boycott. They’re asking customers and the general public to tweet under the hashtag #DeleteInstacart on January 19, and to email Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta on January 20, asking him to restore the 10 percent default tip—which workers lost back in 2016. (The default tip sits at five percent.)
“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%,” Instacart workers wrote in a post on Medium published Monday. “In order to continue fulfilling your orders, we must see action from Instacart.”
In November, thousands of workers staged a 3-day national strike, demanding the app restore its default tip to 10 percent. But less than 48 hours later, the company slashed bonus pay—one of Instacart’s last pay perks, which can amount to 40 percent of earnings.
Late last year, customers and even a California legislator responded by shaming the company on social media and calling for a boycott. Instacart workers hope to revive the Instacart backlash online next week.
“We’re trying to attack Instacart from every possible angle. At this point, we know that Instacart doesn’t care if its workforce is angry, but we do know that they care about their customers,” said Sarah Clarkson, an Instacart shopper in Mountain View, California and an organizer of next week’s action, told Motherboard. “Our most successful actions so far have involved customers.”
“We’ve tested various versions of the customer tip default over the years, from 10%, to no default tip, to 5%, which we've had in place for nearly two years," a spokesperson from Instacart told Motherboard. "Ultimately, we believe customers should have the choice to determine the tip amount they choose to give a shopper based on the experience they have. The default amount serves as a baseline for a shopper’s potential tip, and can be increased to any amount by the customer.”
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Much of the recent spotlight on tech worker organizing has focused on white collar workers like engineers at Google and Amazon. But Instacart’s November strike likely engaged more workers than any white collar tech worker strike against a single company in the United States last year.
More than 100 workers have reached out to Motherboard since November about their pay cuts— some saying they’ve had to contact the Red Cross and other charities to get food for Thanksgiving dinner and gifts over the holidays. Others have been threatened to have their utilities turned off.
“I don’t believe there’s another gig company that has workers who are more pissed. At this point, morale is so low,” said Clarkson. “We want to put Instacart in a position where they can’t ignore us anymore.”
Update: This story has been updated with comment from Instacart.