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As Instacart Strike Begins, Whole Foods Workers Plan Tuesday Sick-Out

Also: A San Mateo County official says hoarders might prompt grocery buying limits, and more news to start your day

Whole Foods To Buy Wild Oats Markets For $565 Million
Whole Foods workers are reportedly planning a mass sick-out for Tuesday, March 31
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Instacart workers say that their planned strike is on for Monday, and Whole Foods workers say they won’t be coming to work on Tuesday — both actions spurred, they say, but a lack of protections against COVID-19.

Workers for San Francisco-based Instacart announced last week that they would stop taking orders on Monday, March 30, unless the company began offering shoppers protections like hand sanitizer and extensions to paid sick leave. Instacart responded Sunday with a press release touting “plans to distribute new health and safety supplies to full-service shoppers,” all of whom, it bears noting, lack most worker protections guarnteed in California, as the company has (despite court decisions to the contrary) refused to reclassify its gig-based workforce as employees.

Calling Instacart’s response to their strike demands “a sick joke,” Gig Workers Collective, the mouthpiece of the striking shoppers, said Sunday that the strike is still on, but that “on the bright side, it shows that a strike will work to change [Instacart’s] behavior.” Speaking with the SF Chronicle, Menlo Park Instacart shopper Vanessa Bain says that “If we get sick, customers will get sick...We may become the very vectors that services like this are supposed to mitigate.” As Instacart has already struggled to meet demand, today could be a tough one for the company.

Bain’s concern is one that’s clearly shared by large grocery chains like Safeway and Trader Joe’s, both of which are installing plexiglass barriers between customers and checkers to reduce possible transmission. Workers at Amazon-owned Whole Foods apparently don’t feel sufficiently protected, however, as Whole Worker, a “grassroots movement of Whole Foods team members working to organize and collectively voice our concerns about Whole Foods and Amazon,” says in a blog post that the group is planning a “mass sick out” on Tuesday March 31, with a list of demands including “reinstatement of health care coverage for part-time and seasonal workers” and “immediate shutdown of any location where a worker tests positive for COVID-19.”

And in other news...

  • Now allowed to only serve via takeout and delivery, San Francsico restaurants are facing a logistical challenge to ensure customers and delivery workers can remain six feet apart. [SF Chronicle]
  • A San Mateo County legislator says that if people don’t stop buying up and hoarding supplies, officials might set official, legal grocery buying limits. [ABC 7]
  • The much-vaunted federal stimulus package signed into law Friday isn’t good enough for small business owners or millions of service workers — which means it doesn’t do enough for the rest of America. [Eater National]
  • San Francisco’s public schools are cutting the days people can pick up meals for children, allowing folks to pick up five days worth of food on Mondays and Wednesdays only. [SF Examiner]
  • San Leandro’s Cleophus Quealy Beer Co. will close permanently at the end of April, as business had been slow for the last six months, and the coronavirus crisis dealt the final blow. [SF Chronicle]
  • The deal to sell Berkeley institution Saul’s Restaurant and Delicatessen has fallen through after the buyer’s bank canceled its loan over CPVID-19 fears. The business has temporarily closed, and its owners hope to reopen after the shelter-in-place has passed — and will then begin to seek a buyer once more. [Berkeleyside]
  • Tori Draeger, the director of marketing for Bay Area grocery store chain Draeger’s Market, says that the company has a coronavirus task force that meets every morning at 6:30 a.m., and that supply chain problems mean “our stores haven’t gotten a frozen load in two stores in two and a half weeks.” [Slate]

Saul's Restaurant & Delicatessen

1475 Shattuck Avenue, , CA 94709 (510) 848-3354 Visit Website