Some businesses have been booming during the covid-19 pandemic, but workers at some of these companies are at risk.
Instacart, the grocery delivery company, saw orders surge amid the coronavirus lockdowns as people stayed home and ordered their groceries online for delivery.
Instacart is in talks to raise hundred million dollars from existing and new investors. If it works out, the deal would put the company’s pre-money valuation at between $12 billion and $14 billion, an increase of at least 50 percent over Instacart’s valuation during its last financing in late 2018, The Information reported.
The startup first turned its first monthly profit in April, and has around $800 million in cash, a source said.
“The company doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation and remains focused on serving as a lifeline for customers and shoppers in the wake of Covid-19,” an Instacart spokesperson said to The Information.
Gig workers like those at Instacart are considered essential. However, they say they have been put as risk as they continue to travel for work. Some say they are not being sufficiently protected against covid-19 by the companies they work for.
“At first, when the adrenaline was still there, we were essential,” said Matthew Telles, a personal shopper and member of the Gig Workers Collective. “We were prideful. And now, as we get more into it, that’s wearing off, and it’s seeming more like expendable.”
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Telles helped organize a strike by Instacart workers in March to demand the company implement appropriate safety measures and give them hazard pay.
Instacart founder and CEO, Apoorva Mehta, claims that workers are being provided with health and safety supplies and sick pay.
Here’s how Telles responded when Democracy Now reporter Amy Goodman asked him about that comment: “I’m like shaking with rage right now…And my biggest issue right now is all these new Instacart shoppers that are unprotected in the stores with their entire families a lot of times…We’re seeing issues where, you know, there’s issues at delivery. There’s issues with safety.”
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In a letter posted on Medium, Instacart shoppers and the Gig Workers Collective said in March that Instacart “has a well-established history of exploiting its shoppers” and that the mistreatment has “stooped to an all-time low,” CBS Chicago News reported.
“Shoppers have had enoughs,” the letter says. “Instacart has refused to act proactively in the interests of its shoppers, customers, and public health, so we are forced to take matters into our own hands. We will not continue to work under these conditions. We will not risk our safety, our health, or our lives for a company that fails to adequately protect us, fails to adequately pay us, and fails to provide us with accessible benefits should we become sick.”