Hey Instacart shoppers, 

You might have noticed that you got something extra from the app recently–some misinformation from the company asking you to contact city council members. The real story is that they are hoping to use you to undermine new laws Seattle passed to protect their workers. Let me explain.

It’s been a banner couple of months for Instacart. The megacorporation went public with a $10 billion valuation, netting its CEO more than $15 million. At the same time, they announced they were cutting their workers’ base pay nearly in half. Now, they’re spreading misinformation and coming after PayUp, Seattle’s new worker protection laws. 

They’re focusing their ire on us because Seattle is leading the nation in passing labor protections for app-based workers. Last year, I sponsored first-of-its-kind legislation that will guarantee app-based workers a minimum wage. Then this year, we passed laws guaranteeing paid sick and safe time and protecting workers from being unfairly terminated. 

Other cities have taken note. New York City followed our lead in June and passed an app-based worker minimum wage law. Seattle is paving the way for the next generation of workers rights laws. 

Unsurprisingly, the corporations who have made billions off underpaid labor want to put an end to it. They have failed to stop us through the courts, and now they are coming after our ability to enforce our laws. 

When the Council passed these laws, we knew that we would need funding to ensure they were properly enforced. The corporations that need to be held accountable, like Instacart, should pay the bill. 

I am sponsoring legislation that would charge them just ten cents per order. That minimal fee would give Seattle’s Office of Labor Standards (OLS) the funding it needs to protect app-based workers and ensure they get paid what they are owed. Without this funding, the OLS will not be able to fully enforce the law. 

To kill my bill and undermine worker protections, Instacart recently sent out an alert to their customers calling on them to oppose the legislation. They called it a tax on groceries. That’s just a straight-up lie. The legislation explicitly exempts grocery items. But, of course, that’s not Instacart’s real problem with the legislation. They simply do not want to pay ten cents to protect their workers’ rights. 

Their real concern is that OLS will have all the funding it needs to uphold the law. They have good reason to believe OLS will be successful in protecting workers from predatory practices. OLS has recovered nearly $14 million for app-based workers whose rights have been violated, including winning: 

  • More than $3.3 million for 10,467 gig workers who were underpaid by Uber Eats;
  • More than $1.6 million for 648 workers after DoorDash violated Seattle’s paid sick and safe time rules; and 
  • More than $1.5 million for 4,580 workers after GrubHub violated gig worker protections. 

Seattle is on the frontlines of ensuring that new technologies and models of work do not wipe out more than a century of progress won by the labor movement. We should continue pushing forward. 

Last year, DoorDash sent out alerts to their customers to try and kill Seattle’s minimum wage legislation. I wrote an op-ed here fact-checking them, and Seattle passed the legislation unanimously. Now, Instacart is trying to do the same. Please reject their attempts. These corporations can afford ten cents to ensure they’re not stealing millions from their workers. 

Council Member Lisa Herbold represents District 1 on the Seattle City Council.