Is $35,000 enough money to be working for free?

The Trump administration has recently announced plans to finally update the salary threshold for overtime exemption… to $35,000/year. That would mean that it's ok for an employer to pay you just $35,000/year, make you overtime-exempt, and require you to work limitless overtime hours with no additional overtime pay.

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Instacart will always find a way...to pay as little as possible.

Instacart’s new pay structure was released Tuesday — and yeah, it looks like we finally got them to stop taking customers’ tips to pay workers.

But the pay Instacart is offering now doesn’t get us where we need to be.

Workers are reporting some major issues with the updated payment structure. It looks like Instacart has, yet again, created loopholes in their own policies to get away with paying extremely low wages — often far below what a minimum-wage job would pay.

When Instacart released their new pay structure, they promised to stop lowering workers’ pay based on how much customers were tipping. And they agreed that they would pay out at least $7-10 per “batch” (job).

But they failed to mention that they were changing the definition of a “batch”...so now they’re paying that $7 floor even for trips that involve shopping and delivering to two, three, or even four customers.

Or that they’re asking people to drive twenty or thirty miles out of their way to take those jobs, with no extra pay.

We still don’t have what we really need: transparency about why we’re getting paid what we’re getting paid. And pay that covers expenses (like gas and car maintenance) and comes out to a reasonable amount for all the time we spend working.

Workers are still facing a black-box algorithm that seems to pay out arbitrary — and low — amounts for large jobs. We know it’s possible for Instacart to pay more consistently, because that’s what they always did in previous pay structures. Before the pay cuts they made last November, Instacart paid a per-item commission of $.40 — PLUS they paid for each customer’s order, rather than grouping three or four orders together and paying as if they were one. And that meant workers got paid more when we did more work. Without standards like item commission and pay per order, there’s no transparency.

Paying more for more work seems like an obvious thing to do — and it’s something workers need to see now.

But Instacart will always find a way to make it sound like they’re giving us what we want, while figuring out a way to pay as little as possible. And as long as they can get away with it, they’ll always choose to keep us in the dark about why we’re getting paid what we’re getting paid.

That’s why we need outside accountability for Instacart and all the other gig companies out there like it. Workers are doing two things to hold Instacart accountable in the coming weeks:

  1. Using these calculators to track data and find out how Instacart is actually paying, instead of what they say they’re paying.

  2. Signing on to the #PayUp campaign — three bold demands for laws that would make sure companies like Instacart can’t get away with low pay, tip theft, and black-box algorithms.

Thousands of workers, customers, and supporters speaking out forced Instacart to change their policies. But even still, they’ve shown that they’re still going to find ways to mess with our pay.

We need to go bigger — and that means banding together with workers on other apps, building momentum for new laws that would secure basic rights for gig workers, and telling gig companies it’s time to #PayUp.