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02/13/2019 | Combating Wage Theft

CPD Affiliate Working Washington Wins Big for Thousands of Instacart Workers

On Wednesday, February 6, Instacart, a Silicon Valley upstart that delivers groceries and other household items to customers through an app, reversed a tipping policy that cheated workers out of rightfully earned wages. Workers took to social media and CPD affiliate, Working Washington, quickly organized to collect more than 1,500 signatures and helped spark a national media sensation. As a result, Instacart, a $7 billion corporation, gave in, retroactively compensating workers for lost wages and transforming its pay model for thousands of workers across the country. The story made headlines in The New York Times, Buzzfeed, NBC News, and other local outlets.

Late last year, Instacart changed its method for paying its contract workers. Workers began to notice that for some orders, tips that customers had added during checkout were being counted toward their base pay rather than in addition to it. In effect, Instacart was using the tips that workers earned to offset the wages that workers were due.

The Instacart story is victory, but also a lesson and warning. In the rising gig economy–a free market system in which companies contract with independent workers for short-term engagements–it is crucial that both workers and consumers hold corporations accountable for compensating their employees fairly. This is a step in the right direction but there is still a long way to go. If you are interested in getting involved to support this campaign, sign up for a Working Washington national organizing meeting by clicking here, or by reaching out to Executive Director, Rachel Lauter at rachel@workingwa.org.