THE AMERICAN PROSPECT: “Like Uber, but for Gig Worker Organizing”

BY BRYCE COVERT — MARCH 30, 2020

“Instacart seemed like a dream when Elisabeth Davis first found out about it. As a mother of four children with a husband in the Navy—which requires moving around a lot—it rarely made sense for her to get a full-time, traditional job. When the family needed more income, Instacart offered the promise of extra cash without having to commit to a regimented daily schedule. “I said, ‘Oh my goodness, this is perfect, because I can do deliveries on the weekends,’” she recalled. “I was super excited.”

For the first week, her dream seemed to have come true. She was picky about what jobs she would take, only accepting ones that paid at least $50 and could be done in about two hours. She figured that would be worth her time, after factoring in the gas and mileage on her car. She could do jobs whenever her husband was home to watch the kids. “It was so nice for me to be able to do a job that didn’t include me having to get child care,” she said. “We were able to just do so much more” with the money, from auto repairs to new shoes for the kids and day trips to restaurants. “That was a big jump for our family to have an extra $150 a week,” said Davis.

But a few weeks in, things seemed to change. The pace slowed down. The jobs being offered didn’t pay as well. When Davis’s husband decided to sign up to help make more cash, he was offered higher-paid jobs she wasn’t seeing. “It was kind of a red flag,” she said. She thought she was supposed to have priority for decent jobs because she’d already put in enough hours with the company.”

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