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UFCW: Instacart Firing Grocery Workers is Ruthless Attempt to Eliminate Jobs of Essential Workers on Frontlines of COVID-19 Protecting Food Access in Pandemic

January 21, 2021

Instacart

Union for Instacart Workers Calls on Company to Halt Effort to Eliminate Jobs of Essential Workers, Respect Right to Unionize

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million workers in grocery, meatpacking, and other frontline industries, condemned the news that Instacart is firing nearly 2,000 grocery workers who have been vital to protecting food access for Americans during the pandemic. 

As part of this move, the company is firing the only unionized Instacart workers in the country, who joined UFCW Local 1546 in February 2020. UFCW Local 1546 demanded today that Instacart 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.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“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. 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. 

“For seniors, high-risk individuals, and countless more who are quarantining, Instacart grocery workers have been a trusted and crucial lifeline, providing access to food for some of the most vulnerable Americans. Instacart firing the only unionized workers at the company and destroying the jobs of nearly 2,000 dedicated frontline workers in the middle of this public health crisis, is simply wrong. 

“As the union for Instacart grocery workers in the Chicago area and grocery workers nationwide, UFCW is calling on Instacart to immediately halt these plans and to put the health of their customers first by protecting the jobs of these brave essential workers at a time when our communities need them most.”

BACKGROUND:

UFCW is the union for Instacart workers in the Chicago area and condemned the move by the company this week to fire unionized Instacart workers and hundreds more across the country. Instacart announced in a letter this week that the company would be eliminating these jobs of essential workers. Instacart confirmed the following details:

  • Instacart currently has nearly 10,000 in-store shoppers (ISSs) nationwide who select and bag grocery orders at supermarkets.
  • Instacart grocery orders are then handed off by ISSs to a full-service shopper (FSS) for delivery. Instacart currently has approximately 500,000 FSSs who make deliveries.
  • Instacart is firing nearly 2,000 grocery workers in the ISS category across the country, including the only unionized Instacart workers in the country, who joined UFCW Local 1546 in the Chicago area in February 2020.
  • 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.
  • Instacart has confirmed that the company expects to eliminate these jobs no sooner than mid-March 2021 and will be providing as little as $250 to the workers they fire.

UFCW is calling on Instacart to immediately halt the company’s plans to fire these workers and respect their rights to unionize for the protections they need. This comes weeks after Albertsons exploited the passage of Prop. 22 in California to use only non-union workers for grocery delivery. But UFCW fought back and has already unionized Safeway grocery drivers in the Bay Area, the first grocery delivery workers at the company to ever join a union. 

UFCW has been a leading national voice for frontline food workers during the pandemic and recently highlighted the impact on the union’s essential workers:

  • 374 frontline worker deaths and over 69,900 frontline workers infected or exposed 
  • 124 grocery worker deaths and 25,760 grocery workers infected or exposed 

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UFCW International is the largest private sector union in the United States. UFCW International represents 1.3 million professionals and their families in healthcare, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members serve our communities in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at ufcw.org