National App-Based Work Alliance Will Advocate for Solutions That Preserve Worker Independence and Access to Benefits
Written By: Kasey B.
For me, shopping with Instacart was always about helping my community. I first started shopping at the beginning of the pandemic when I realized that a lot of people around me needed help, but couldn’t always get it since we’re in a rural area. Now, I have a great way to lend a hand while also earning some extra money, too.
Whether it’s an elderly person who can’t shop on their own, a high-risk individual who doesn’t feel comfortable going out during the pandemic, or a single mom who needs someone to help with the shopping while her kids are at home, shopping with Instacart has really given me the chance to feel like I’m making a difference in the lives of the people who need it most.
It felt that way from the very start. I see a lot of familiar faces and in just my first week shopping, I made three separate deliveries to the same mom. Since then I’ve had the chance to make personal connections with many others I shop for, including a sweet elderly woman who isn’t able to shop for herself and whose daughter puts in orders for her from her home in California.
What’s made this experience even better is the flexibility. I can shop when it works best for me and log off when I need to. I’m a new grandmother, so I really value the chance to take a bit of time off to go and visit my family. I’m also an early riser, so the flexibility means I can start right away in the morning and avoid shopping too late. If I had to work a strict schedule or late hours, I don’t think I’d be able to continue shopping.
That’s why it’s concerning to hear about the PRO Act, which uses the same “ABC Test” for defining employees as seen in Assembly Bill 5 in California. AB5 made it a lot harder for independent workers like me to keep the flexibility we value so much, and app-based workers didn’t receive exemptions from it until California voters overwhelmingly threw their support behind a ballot initiative, Proposition 22, in November. If that same approach is taken nationally, we almost don’t have an option of a ballot initiative to correct course.
We need lawmakers to realize that app-based work is a new way of doing things, and that old benefits systems designed for the standard 9-to-5 won’t work. Instead, they need to find other solutions like portable benefits that can give us access to the benefits we want without sacrificing the flexibility that makes app-based opportunities work for us.
I recently got my license to start selling life and health insurance, but I don’t expect to give up shopping anytime soon - as long as I can keep doing it on a schedule that works best for me. I want to be able to split my time between my insurance job and shopping, but that would not be possible if the PRO Act becomes law.
Shopping with Instacart started as a way to feel like I was doing something to help people during a time of need. Since then, it’s become a way to connect with my community and really feel like I’m making a difference in people’s lives. The only way I’ll be able to continue with it, though, is if Congress takes a stand to protect the flexibility that makes this work possible for me and app-based workers everywhere.
Kasey B. is an Instacart shopper from Walla Walla, Washington.