Boycott Shipt and Protest Shipt's Essential Worker Pay Cut!
Happening at Shipt's HQ in Birmingham and Target's HQ in Minneapolis
Shipt is cutting the pay of its essential workers nationwide, right in the middle of this COVID-19 pandemic, by forcing its workers to transition to a nontransparent black box pay scale that they did not want. The Shipt List will be protesting and fighting for the rights of all Shipt workers to receive fair and equitable pay. Read more about why we protest and how you can participate, even if you cannot join us!
How Shipt's New "Black Box" Algorithm Cuts Shopper Pay
Months ago, as Shipt began beta testing the new "V2" pay scale in a number of markets such as Kalamazoo, Michigan, and San Antonio, Texas, active Shipt shoppers and the Shipt List community began partnering with researchers at Coworker.org to better understand the new pay scale. Since our Shipt List mission of advocating for Shipt shoppers and for the broader gig work community matches with Coworker.org's mission to bring positive change to the workplace, the Shipt List and Coworker.org committed to a mutual effort to bring transparency to the new Shipt pay scale.
Coworker.org's Shopper Transparency Tool
Coworker.org developed a Shopper Transparency Calculator tool that has helped hundreds of active Shipt shoppers better understand the Shipt pay scale, using 2020 shop pay data submitted by hundreds of shoppers in nearly every market that Shipt serves. Shoppers could anonymously submit shop data by texting screenshots to a chatbot at (202) 519-1587, which offers the following functions:
MORE - Displays the main menu
ABOUT - Displays more information about the project
CONTACT - Puts you in touch with the team behind the project
STOP - Stops all texts from the calculator
PAY - Displays your average pay, and explains how it compares to V1
METRO - Tells you the average pay per shop in your Metro
TIPS - Displays your average tip, and the percentage of your pay that tips account for
DELETE - Deletes all of your data and clears your history completely
EXPORT - Sends a link to download all of your data in a .csv in order to perform your own analysis.
All personal information, such as shopper phone numbers and order ID's, are securely stored to ensure shopper and member privacy, and will never be shared to any third parties, including but not limited to Shipt.
The Shipt List encourages all active Shipt shoppers to continue submitting pay data to the Shopper Transparency Calculator chatbot.
The Findings: Pay Disparities and Declining Pay over Time
Coworker.org connected the Shipt List with Dan Calacci, a PhD student at MIT. Independently of any influences from The Shipt List, Calacci applied data science analysis techniques to the V2 data submitted by the hundreds of Shipt shoppers who participated in the study. In comparing V2 data to what shoppers would have earned under the former V1 pay scale of $5 + 7.5% commission, Calacci's data analysis presented a series of surprising findings:
First, 41% of shoppers in the study are earning significantly less under V2 pay, and shoppers that are making less under the new V2 scheme are making 11% less on average per-shop.
Second, the number of shoppers earning less under V2 is growing over time, as V2 payouts appear to be declining over time. At the time of report publication, 60% of shoppers having earned less from V2 in the past week of the report (Oct. 7th), and the average V2 payout has fallen by about 15% since the algorithm was rolled out to all shoppers.
Third, the report found evidence of Shipt pay disparity. Across all shops and workers, the V2 pay scheme does technically pay slightly more on average, but not all shoppers are reaping this benefit.
Calacci notes that “any earnings increases under the V2 algorithm are not being distributed evenly" and notes that the true cause of this discrepancy will remain a mystery "without more transparency for workers by Shipt or broader, worker-driven research like this project”.
Shipt is claiming that the new pay scale is "effort-based". However, the Shipt List does not see how this pay disparity in which some shoppers are paid less than other shoppers could exist under a true effort-based pay scale. Calacci agrees, and writes:
"And there’s another mystery here. Shipt claims that its algorithm estimates 'effort' for each shop. If it were simply bad at doing this, and had some random error, we’d expect the lower payouts to be evenly distributed across workers. But that’s not what we see. Instead, we see a group of workers who are consistently making less under the new algorithm."
Independent Affirmation of Shopper Grievances
The Shipt List has long been well aware of and has documented numerous inconsistencies in the V2 pay model, which we have spoken out against and shared with the news media since our founding in early 2020.
The data uncovered by Calacci and MIT offer strong evidence that Shipt is continually tweaking and adjusting the pay of their new shopper pay algorithm. As we have stated, nontransparent algorithmically generated pay is very attractive to gig companies since pay can be adjusted at any time with no announcement to workers.
MIT and Calacci found clear evidence of Shipt cutting worker pay in submitted data when tracked over time.
Reaffirming Our Fight Against Low Shipt Shopper Pay
The Shipt List has been organizing a 3-day shopper and member boycott and protest of this new nontransparent blackbox pay scale at Target's and Shipt's headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Birmingham, Alabama. To learn more about the boycott, visit www.shiptlist.org/boycott. Here are some photos!
Shipt List Protest at Shipt HQ in Birmingham, AL
Shipt List Protest at Target HQ in Minneapolis, MN
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