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Instacart plans to lay off nearly 2,000 workers no earlier than March, including the 10 workers who voted to form the company's first union in February 2020, according to a statement from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW).
The layoffs, first reported by Motherboard, will effect in-store grocery workers at Kroger-owned chains and other supermarkets, including the supermarket near Chicago that's home to the unionized workers. Some of the laid-off in-store shoppers may be offered jobs as full-service shoppers that conduct deliveries and are contracted, rather than employed, by the company. Contract workers are non-union eligible roles, meaning that the currently unionized employees would not retain their union rights or continue their contract-negotiating process.
"As the union for Instacart grocery workers in the Chicago area and grocery workers nationwide, UFCW is calling on Instacart to immediately halt these plans and to put the health of their customers first by protecting the jobs of these brave essential workers at a time when our communities need them most," UFCW International President Marc Perrone wrote in a statement.
"We're doing everything we can to support in-store shoppers through this transition. This includes transferring impacted shoppers to other retailer locations where we have Instacart in-store shopper roles open, working closely with our retail partners to hire impacted shoppers for roles they're looking to fill, and providing shoppers with transition assistance as they explore new work opportunities," an Instacart spokesperson said in a statement.
The news of the layoffs comes as Instacart prepares for an upcoming IPO at some point in 2021.
Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (@ anna_c_kramer), where she helps write and produce Source Code, Protocol's daily newsletter. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.