Workers for the Target-owned Shipt grocery delivery app are asking customers to boycott the service on Friday as they seek increased benefits and protections amid the coronavirus crisis.
Shipt was acquired by Target in 2017, and the retailer has used the platform as a way to offer same-day delivery to its consumers. The app’s “shoppers,” who are members of the gig economy, pick up and deliver orders from Target in addition to other grocery stores.
Some Shipt shoppers staged a walkout on Tuesday as they demand $5 of hazard pay per for order, personal protective equipment for all and a transparent tipping process. Workers are asking for Shipt to go back to its initial payment system. The delivery app revised its payment system in 2019, shifting from a commission-based to an algorithm-based procedure, which some workers have said led to significantly reduced compensation.
“Shipt shoppers have been sounding the alarm for weeks, imploring Shipt to provide basic protections. Rather than respond to the calls for action, Shipt chose to ignore shoppers’ pleas,” a blog post by “Shipt Shoppers,” published on Medium reads. “Quite frankly, shoppers are fed up with Shipt disregarding the health and safety of customers and shoppers while playing games with shopper pay. During these uncertain times, Shipt must not put profits before people.”
According to Shipt CEO Kelly Caruso, the service is seeing a “record” level of orders and has seen a “significant increase” in orders this week compared with last week. To meet this demand, Shipt is “actively adding” thousands of new workers including corporate staff and shoppers and is issuing bonuses for the “most active” shoppers.
Caruso said the company is providing all of its shoppers with gloves and masks in the coming weeks through pick-up at their local Target stores; Shipt is also “expediting” individual safety kits to workers in the hardest-hit areas, Caruso said. Additionally, the service is providing compensation to shoppers who cannot work due to “a quarantine order or COVID-19 diagnosis.”
As essential employees, grocery store workers and delivery drivers are continuing to work in the midst of the pandemic — and Shipt shoppers are not the only employees who have asked for additional protections. Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island, N.Y., staged a strike last month to call attention to a reported lack of protections after an employee at the location tested positive for the coronavirus last week. That worker was put under quarantine, and individuals who were known to have come into contact with the worker were asked to stay home for two weeks with pay. Earlier this week, the family of a Walmart associate in Illinois who died from complications of COVID-19 filed a lawsuit against the retailer. The suit alleges that the retailer’s “failure” to implement proper safety and health standards was responsible for the death of the associate and one of his coworkers.
Target did not immediately respond to FN’s request for comment.