Instacart confirmed to CNN Business that inserts and stickers were available over the weekend in the staging area at one store in the Bay Area for shoppers to add to orders. It said it does not currently plan to expand the effort but would not explain why it was only offered in one store for one weekend.
“Prop 22 is needed to protect tens of thousands of opportunities for shoppers, and to preserve the affordable and convenient grocery delivery services millions of Californians rely on,” said an Instacart spokesperson in a statement to CNN Business. “As part of our support for Prop 22, we’re communicating directly with customers and shoppers on this important issue.”
“The whole thing is just very, very dystopian and absurd and alarming,” said Bain of asking shoppers to deliver campaign materials. Bain opposes Prop 22.
The initiative seeks to side-step Assembly Bill 5, or AB-5, which codifies an “ABC” test to determine if workers are employees who are entitled to labor protections and benefits. Under the test, employers must meet three requirements to prove their workers are independent contractors, including that the contractor provides the service free from the company’s control.
In May, the California Attorney General and a coalition of city attorneys sued Uber and Lyft accusing them of misclassifying drivers as independent contractors and depriving them of protections they would be entitled to as employees. An Uber spokesperson said in a statement at the time that it plans to “contest this action in court.” A Lyft spokesperson said it is “looking forward to working with the Attorney General and mayors across the state to bring all the benefits of California’s innovation economy to as many workers as possible.”
Other legal battles in California challenge the classification of workers of the on-demand food and grocery delivery companies.
The Prop 22 campaign materials were made available to both Instacart in-store shoppers, who are employees, and full-service shoppers, who are contractors.
Instacart said it was optional for workers.
Ross said that if workers are considered employees, even presenting it as optional falls into a gray area. The company would know who fulfilled the sample and who selected “not found,” something that a court might view as “coercive” as laid out under California’s Labor Code.
Labor code provisions “prohibit CA employers from controlling their employees’ political activities and requiring employees to adhere to the employer’s political views. It seems to me that is exactly what Instacart is doing here,” added Ross.
When asked about the labor code provisions, Instacart said the effort was in accordance with campaign finance rules.
Instacart — which announced last week that it raised $200 million in financing, valuing it at $17.7 billion — has hundreds of thousands of full-service shoppers in North America, as well roughly 10,000 in-store shoppers, who are stationed inside grocery stores and are part-time employees of Instacart.