After over a year of frustration, some Instacart grocery workers will vote to unionize.
Up to 15 Instacart grocery workers in Skokie, a suburb of Chicago, told Vice's Lauren Kaori Gurley they will vote whether to unionize on February 1. The gig app employs part-time shoppers to package groceries for customers on Instacart's app. Instacart also employees independent contractors who delivery groceries.
Instacart part-time workers would unionize with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1546, which represents workers in grocery stores, nursing homes, and packing plants around Illinois. Independent contractors for Instacart, however, are not legally allowed to unionize.
Ahead of their vote, Instacart managers have passed printed memos that encourage workers not to unionize, Vice reports. Memos warn workers of "expensive" union dues and handing over control of their work-lives to UFCW, according to screenshots leaked to Vice.
"I encourage you to look at all of the FACTS and vote 'NO' on February 1st," Chris Nolan, Instacart's senior operations manager, apparently stated in a memo. If the vote passes, the Skokie employees would be the app's first workers to unionize.
Instacart declined to comment to Business Insider on the alleged anti-union memos sent to part-time delivery workers. However, it said that it would recognize any union that formed from the vote.
"We support employee freedom and choice, respect our employees' rights to consider unionization and will honor the outcome of the election process," Instacart said in a statement. You can read the full statement below.
Instacart workers had criticized the platform for paying part-time workers and independent contractors low wages. In late 2018, the company quietly changed their price model that resulted in significantly reduced wages from a flat rate to a variable — and sometimes inconsistent — pay structure.
Joe Loftis, a pro-union Instacart worker in Illinois, told Vice he expects the vote to pass in spite of company retaliation.
"I don't think this will be much of a challenge. Workers are treated so badly," Loftis said. "This is going to be a cake walk."
Read Instacart's full statement below, per a spokesperson:
"Instacart is a North American leader in online grocery with a mission to provide everyone with access to the food they love and more time to enjoy it together. We've proudly been serving customers in the greater Chicago area since 2013.
Our customers order groceries and household essentials online and Instacart in-store shoppers – part-time employees based in select grocery stores throughout the U.S. – carefully pick and pack the orders for delivery and pickup in as fast as an hour. The in-store shopper role was created to promote flexibility, efficiency, and quality customer service — each of which is essential to our shopping experience and delivers positive results for both customers and our in-store shoppers.
Instacart part-time employees work fewer than 30 hours per week, giving them the flexibility they want to accommodate other personal responsibilities or jobs. Part-time Instacart employees receive competitive pay and, last year, Instacart introduced a new nationwide, tenure-based pay structure that progressively increases employees' hourly pay to reward individuals for their continued service.
Up to fifteen part-time employees in Skokie, Illinois, are expected to participate in an election on Saturday, February 1, to vote on whether or not to unionize. We support employee freedom and choice, respect our employees' rights to consider unionization and will honor the outcome of the election process."