Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Some Instacart workers plan to go on strike today, arguing that the grocery delivery unicorn's recent increases in pay and safety equipment are insufficient.

Why it matters: Instacart has become a lifeline for many Americans either unable or unwilling to leave their homes, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

What's happening: It's unclear how many drivers plan to strike today, as the organizer intentionally doesn't keep lists (because contractors don't have legal protections from "employer" retaliation) and past gig economy strikes have been more successful on noise than numbers.

  • The strike also comes at a time when Instacart's workforce is surging — to meet increased orders, including efforts to provide softer landings to recently furloughed or laid-off employees from industries like travel and hospitality (expect some company-specific announcements on that soon).
  • It's also worth noting that the two sides seem to negotiate via blog posts, rather than directly, which has led to some miscommunication.

Strike organizers last week asked for three things:

  1. Free safety products (e.g., hand sanitizer and wipes) for all workers.
  2. Hazard pay of $5 per order plus defaulting the tip amount to 10%.
  3. Expanding sick pay to those with pre-existing conditions that could put them at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19, and to extend the deadline for benefits beyond April 8.

Instacart has since announced that it has:

  1. Signed a deal with a third-party manufacturer in Louisiana to produce and distribute its own hand sanitizer to workers in the field. It already had created sanitizer stations inside of stores and arranged for workers to enter and exit via back or side entrances.
  2. Established bonus payments based on the number of hours worked between March 15 and April 15.
  3. Extended for another month its 14 days of sick pay for all workers either diagnosed with COVID-19 or directed by a doctor or health official to stay home (i.e., someone showing symptoms). The guarantee now runs through May 8.

Between the lines: Both sides sincerely believe they are doing the right thing in the midst of a quickly evolving natural disaster.

  • The organizers want workers to be safe, and they're also using the crisis to boost wages after years of having little to no leverage.
  • Instacart was early to implement sick pay for those with the virus, was early with contactless drop-off, and is trying to move new logistical mountains daily (everything from revised traffic patterns to new CDC safety guidelines to onboarding record numbers of new shoppers and customers).

The bottom line: Instacart has suddenly become America’s most vital gig economy company, after years of sitting in the shadows of fellow gig economy "unicorns" like Uber and DoorDash. And with greater profile comes greater pressure.

Go deeper

Senate confirms retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as defense secretary

Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

The Senate voted 93-2 on Friday to confirm retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) were the sole "no" votes.

Why it matters: Austin is the first Black American to lead the Pentagon and President Biden's second Cabinet nominee to be confirmed.

House will transmit article of impeachment to Senate on Monday, Schumer says

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the House will deliver the article of impeachment against former President Trump for "incitement of insurrection" on Monday.

Why it matters: The Senate is required to begin the impeachment trial at 1pm the day after the article is transmitted.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Private equity bets on delayed tax reform in Biden administration

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

In normal times, private equity would be nervous about Democratic Party control of both the White House and Congress. But in pandemic-consumed 2021, the industry seems sanguine.

Driving the news: Industry executives and lobbyists paid very close attention to Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen's confirmation hearings this week, and came away convinced that tax reform isn't on the near-term agenda.