- A group of Instacart employees in a suburb of Chicago have voted to unionize through local United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1546, according to numerous reports.
- This is the first group of in-store Instacart employees to unionize, Engadget reported. The union representation will only cover 15 employees at a Mariano’s store in Skokie, Illinois, according to the Chicago Tribune.
- In a statement released to the media, Instacart said it will honor the group’s vote to unionize pending certification from the National Labor Relations Board, and that it respects its employees’ rights to explore unionization.
There's no indication whether more Instacart employees will attempt to unionize, but the win for Mariano’s Instacart employees establishes a precedent that others could follow.
While Instacart says its total workforce is more than 142,000, 130,000 of them are contractors and about 12,000 of them are considered part-time employees and are the only individuals capable of unionizing. These workers pick, pack and stage groceries at dedicated grocery stores. The other 130,000 people who fulfill and deliver grocery orders for Instacart are gig workers, and are not eligible to unionize or receive the same benefits as employees.
Employers in the U.S. are not required to provide the same benefits to part-time workers as full-time workers, such as health insurance or paid leave.
In a statement, the president of UFCW Local 1546 congratulated the employees and stated the chapter looks forward to working with its new members to negotiate their first union contract. UFCW also noted the workers stuck together throughout the organizing campaign, despite Instacart’s "anti-union stance."
Instacart noted in its statement that it is working on fair, good faith negotiations with its part-time employees in Skokie, though didn’t indicate what that would entail.
Instacart seems to be in a constant battle over the treatment of workers and how they can remedy the situation. In November, Instacart shoppers organized a three-day boycott to protest the company’s tipping policy. Contractors have also filed a new class-action lawsuit against Instacart related to payment and tipping.
The company is, however, working to add some benefits for contractors. Last August Instacart introduced benefits for gig workers, including workplace injury coverage, financial and wellness resources and student loan repayment.