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Target Delivery Workers Strike

Workers at Shipt are refusing to shop and deliver until basic safety precautions are taken

Brian Young's picture
Apr 08, 2020

With stores overrun with customers, they are becoming key places for new infections. Supermarkets are obviously essential, but people are looking for ways to avoid them. Delivery services like Amazon Prime, Shipt, Instacart, and Peapod have stepped in to meet customers' needs.

Shipt, which is Target’s delivery service, has announced that they are hiring 10,000 workers to meet this growing demand. However, that may be slowed after a large portion of the companies 100,000 gig workers announced that they would be walking off the job on Tuesday and will not return until Shipt and Target meet their demands.

The workers say that they are being put at a higher risk of infection. Unlike ordering from Amazon, where all of the product is held in a warehouse, Shipt employees walk around the store “shopping” for the customer. The worker, who is referred to as a "Shopper," then delivers the goods to the person's home. They are doing this with limited or no personal protective equipment (PPE). They also don’t have hazard pay or paid sick leave. Other gig worker companies like Uber and Lyft have provided “financial assistance” for drivers who get sick or were exposed to  COVID-19.

In a post on Medium, the workers said they have been “sounding the alarm for weeks" and "imploring" the company to provide basic protections like face masks and gloves, as well as sanitizing products like hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes. "Rather than respond to the calls for action, Shipt chose to ignore shoppers' pleas," the workers said. "Shoppers have no choice but to stage a walk-off. It is simply too unsafe to work right now." They also say that the company has changed its pay structure during the crisis to lower the amount of money a Shopper gets on a canceled order.

“We, as shoppers, are not being treated like people anymore. We’re a number. We deserve to know how much we’re going to be paid for the orders we take,” said one Shopper, whose name was being withheld for fear of retribution from the company. “We need to know we’ll get compensated even if the customer changes their mind. We need to know that we’ll be taken care of if we get sick from COVID-19. We shouldn’t be hoping tips will make a batch worthwhile. I absolutely love being able to do something for others, while also being paid. I have a disability that makes “normal” employment difficult for me, so having the option to work my own schedule is great. But, I still need to be able to know if I’ll be able to pay rent or get my prescriptions or pay to see my doctor, and right now that’s not the case. We need to be able to trust the company were contracted with.”

Target, which owns Shipt, is the 8th largest retailer in the country. Since much of the PPE and cleaning supplies are already available at Target stores, it would seem easy for them to provide these products to their Shoppers. Since the COVID-19 outbreak began similar job actions have taken place at Instacart, Amazon, and Whole Foods as delivery and grocery workers now have increasing power and are being asked to put their health on the line.

The workers say they will not be working until Shipt meets their demands. They are asking consumers to boycott using the app on Friday, April 10th.

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