Instacart, Amazon workers strike over insufficient COVID-19 protections

Photo (c) Andrei Stanescu - Getty Images

‘Indispensable’ workers are asking the companies to enact several changes

Instacart and Amazon workers tasked with delivering goods to consumers are striking over the way they’re being treated during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Some Instacart workers turned off their app Monday in a bid to protest the company’s insufficient COVID-19 protections. The same day, Amazon workers protested the company’s handling of the pandemic. 

Instacart workers are seeking hazard pay, an increase in sick pay to include coverage for people with underlying health conditions, and a 5 percent increase on the current default tip rate of 5 percent. 

Working conditions under scrutiny

Amazon, which recently disclosed that 13 of its facilities have been affected by at least one coronavirus case, has also been hit with criticism over its treatment of workers during the health crisis. 

Amazon workers say they have faced pressure to work longer hours during the crisis and haven’t been offered protective gear or screening for possible coronavirus symptoms. Last week, Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Ilhan Omar penned a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos seeking a company response to allegations of unsafe conditions in the company’s facilities. 

"No employee, especially those who work for one of the wealthiest corporations in the world, should be forced to work in unsafe conditions," the lawmakers wrote in the letter, which was co-signed by a dozen other House representatives. 

Amazon called the accusations “simply unfounded” and added that it’s “working hard to keep employees safe while serving communities and the most vulnerable.” 

Consumers could be affected 

In an interview with CNN Business, Veena Dubal, a labor law expert and associate professor at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, noted that consumers could see the impact of these worker strikes down the line. 

"Workers across the service industry are suffering. And yet they are indispensable during this critical time,” Dubal said. “The fact that these strikes are happening simultaneously shows that if the companies don't meet their demands, workers have the power to shut down the supply chains."

"Consumers, too, are realizing how their well-being is intertwined with the well-being of people who do these jobs,” Dubal added. 

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