UFCW: Instacart Firing Front-Line Grocery Workers

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UFCW: Instacart Firing Front-Line Grocery Workers

By Gina Acosta - 01/22/2021
Instacart says it is testing a number of new pickup solutions with retail partners designed to support their changing needs as grocery e-commerce becomes even more integral to their businesses.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) is accusing Instacart of targeting its workers for termination.

The union, which represents 1.3 million workers in grocery, meatpacking and other essential industries, is condemning news that Instacart is eliminating some positions in some stores as it moves to scale its Pickup offering.

Instacart says it is testing a number of new pickup solutions with retail partners designed to support their changing needs as grocery e-commerce becomes even more integral to their businesses. Instacart will now be offering two Instacart Pickup models — Partner Pick and Instacart In-Store Shopper Pick — as well as testing in select markets a new feature that enables full-service shoppers to fulfill pickup orders.

Moving forward, some Instacart partners will be transitioning to a Partner Pick model for Instacart Pickup orders. Through Partner Pick, retail employees will utilize Instacart’s new pickup technology to enable them to fulfill Instacart Pickup orders for customers. Second, with some retail partners, pickup service with Instacart in-store shoppers who pick and pack groceries will continue in many regions across the U.S. Finally, the company is piloting a new feature for full-service shoppers with a number of other retail partners. As part of this pilot, full-service shoppers at select retailer locations will be able to choose orders to pick, pack and stage — no delivery required. For all of these retailers, Instacart full-service shoppers will also continue to be available to pick and deliver groceries and goods for delivery customers.

"As a result of some grocers transitioning to a Partner Pick model, we’ll be winding down our in-store operations at select retailer locations over the coming months," Instacart said in a statement on its company blog. "We know this is an incredibly challenging time for many as we move through the COVID-19 crisis, and we’re doing everything we can to support in-store shoppers through this transition. This includes transferring impacted shoppers to other retailer locations where we have Instacart in-store shopper roles open, working closely with our retail partners to hire impacted shoppers for roles they’re looking to fill, and providing shoppers with transition assistance as they explore new work opportunities. We’re also providing all impacted shoppers with separation packages based on their tenure with Instacart."

According to the UFCW, which is the union for Instacart workers in the Chicago area, Instacart is firing nearly 2,000 grocery in-store shoppers (ISS) across the country, including the only unionized Instacart workers in the country, who joined UFCW Local 1546 in the Chicago area. Among those Instacart workers the company is firing are 366 ISS workers at Kroger-owned stores and over 1,500 ISS workers at other grocery chains nationwide.

UFCW Local 1546 says Instacart should reconsider its decision to lay off any of the company’s essential workers during the pandemic. Instacart workers are among those designated as essential workers and successfully pressured the company to strengthen COVID-19 safety measures to protect them on the job as virus cases have continued to rise across the country, according to the union.

“All across the country, Instacart grocery workers have been bravely serving on the frontlines since the pandemic began, putting their own health at risk to ensure Americans have the food they need during this crisis,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “Now, with COVID-19 outbreaks spiraling out of control, it is outrageous that Instacart would fire these courageous and hard-working men and women keeping our food supply secure.”

Instacart currently facilitates curbside services for more than 60 grocery partners, including ALDI, Food Lion, Publix, Sprouts and Wegmans. In 2020, it launched Instacart Pickup services across more than 2,000 new retailer locations, making the service available at more than 3,300 stores across more than 30 states.

Instacart has partnered with more than 500 national, regional and local retailers, including unique brand names, to deliver from nearly 40,000 stores across more than 5,500 cities in North America. Instacart's delivery service is available to 85% of U.S. households and 70% of Canadian households. 

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