Labor advocates called on the grocery delivery platform Instacart to reverse a decision to lay off hundreds of employees, including the company’s only unionized workers.

Instacart informed employees earlier this week that it will be cutting nearly 2,000 jobs, including roughly 10 in-store shoppers at a Skokie, Illinois supermarket who joined a United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCS) local in February.

“All across the country, Instacart grocery workers have been bravely serving on the frontlines since the pandemic began, putting their own health at risk,”  UFCW International President Marc Perrone said in a statement. “Instacart firing the only unionized workers at the company and destroying the jobs of nearly 2,000 dedicated frontline workers in the middle of this public health crisis, is simply wrong.”

Instacart said in a blog post Tuesday that it was eliminating the positions because some of its partner stores are switching to a model where their own employees will select the groceries that are then delivered to customers homes.

“As a result of some grocers transitioning to a Partner Pick model, we’ll be winding down our in-store operations at select retailer locations over the coming months,” Instacart said in a statement to USA TODAY.

The company says it will help some of the affected workers find new positions within the supermarkets, or transfer them to stores where they can maintain their jobs with Instacart.

Instacart, and other grocery delivery services, became a lifeline for many during the pandemic as Americans were advised to stay home as much as possible to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The pandemic has focused a spotlight on the treatment of front line workers, including those employed by warehouses, meat packing plants and supermarkets, who advocates say have put their health at risk for often  low wages, with few benefits or protections.

Source: USA Today