Target’s Shipt shoppers are walking off work today

Shipt shoppers, which began organizing in February, are staging their first action today. Yesterday, a group of Shipt shoppers, who shop and deliver orders from Target and other stores, announced their plans to walk off today. The walk-off is in protest of the way Shipt has treated its shoppers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Vice first reported.

“Unless you get tested for COVID-19 or you’re half dead, Shipt’s not going to care,” Iowa-based Shipt shopper Angie Kufner tells TechCrunch.

Kufner hasn’t been working for the past couple of weeks because she’s been feeling ill, but Shipt has not provided her with sick pay, even though Shipt provides workers diagnosed with COVID-19 up to two weeks worth of sick pay. Kufner’s experience is just one example of why shoppers are demanding the company extend that policy to include those who are immunocompromised or have a note from a doctor telling them to stay home. Currently, Shipt says it determines eligibility for sick pay on a case by case basis.

“I guarantee you there are a lot more people who have felt like crap,” Kufner says. “The stores are totally unsafe. It’s not worth the $6 they’re going to pay you to go in the store.”

In addition to extending the sick pay policy, shoppers at Ship are demanding hazard pay of $5 per order and personal protective equipment for everyone. Additionally, Shipt shoppers are demanding the company reinstate its original transparent pay structure, make tips transparent and stop exploiting new workers.

“To me, they’ve proven it’s profit over people,” Kufner says of Shipt and Target. “They don’t care about shoppers or the customers because at this point they’re putting customers at risk when these shoppers aren’t protected themselves inside the stores. It’s frustrating because Target and Shipt are both making a fortune with all the new customers and all the new orders and they’ve done almost nothing to support the shoppers.”

In an updated blog post yesterday, Shipt said all shoppers will be provided with gloves and a mask within the next two weeks. Shipt says it has also sent its most active shoppers information on how to claim a free kit that includes gloves and hand sanitizer.

“We are so proud of our shopper community and how they’ve responded to the increase in demand and the opportunity to serve their communities,” a Shipt spokesperson said in a statement. “We are focused on supporting them during this time with health and safety precautions, protective equipment and financial assistance. Our shoppers have been delivering record volumes to our members, and they continue to schedule themselves to shop commensurate with what we’ve seen throughout the pandemic.”

Prior to the pandemic, Shipt shoppers had begun expressing their dismay toward the company. In January, Shipt started testing a new pay structure where, instead of basing it on cart size, Shipt takes into account the time it takes to complete and deliver an order.

Prior to the changes, shoppers had received a $5 flat rate and 7.5% of the total store receipt, one shopper, who asked to remain anonymous, previously told TechCrunch.

“We are losing money as shoppers at a ridiculous rate,” a shopper from Kalamazoo previously told TechCrunch. “A very good, close friend of mine told me in the three weeks since the new structure was implemented, she has lost the equivalent of a car payment. It is a lot of money. Our best guesstimation is we’re all losing about 30% or more. I did four orders this past weekend, and I lost money on every single one.”

Now, Shipt workers have joined the likes of workers at Instacart, Amazon, Whole Foods and others that are demanding better protections during this global health crisis.

Amid strikes from workers at Instacart, the company began implementing some changes but still has yet to meet all of their demands. A few days ago, Instacart finally began offering shoppers face masks, hand sanitizers and thermometers. One day later, DoorDash said it was investing in getting more personal protective equipment for its delivery workers.

It’s now widely understood that gig workers are providing essential services during these times, as many cities have enacted shelter-in-place ordinances and as vulnerable people are remaining at home in order to reduce their risk of exposure to the virus.

“Shipt has lowered pay, used shoppers vehicles without fuel or maintenance reimbursement, ignored a faulty rating system, and never paid for healthcare or insurance,” one Shipt shopper said in a statement. “Now they are sending shoppers into stores during a pandemic with no pay increase, no PPE and no guidance. Shipt is treating its shoppers as expendable while advertising to customers as a personal concierge service.”

In addition to the walk-off, organizers are calling for customers to boycott the app on Friday, April 10.