US grocery chain replaces delivery personnel with gig workers

Delivery drivers of stores owned by Albertsons, such as Safeway, will also end up jobless unless they accept the alternative roles offered by the company

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Grocery chain, Albertsons, will lay off its delivery staff in various locations across the US and replace them with gig workers or ‘third-party logistics providers.

This is a repercussion of Prop. 22, the ballot proposition that allows gig firms to not provide their workers the mandatory minimum wage and overtime, as it classifies them as contractors and not employees. Labour advocates and experts had expected that this law would cause job losses as it encourages companies to limit the compensation and benefits available to workers.

While Albertsons maintains that the move will give it a competitive edge in the home-delivery market, experts say that creating a subcategory with fewer entitlements, rights and wages, encourages a switch from conventional jobs to a new category of gig workers. This will only fuel inequality.

In February, delivery drivers for stores owned by Albertsons companies, such as Safeway, will also lose their jobs as Safeway will switch to using third-party companies who offer specialised delivery services, such as delivery apps.

The HR department at Safeway is trying to place its drivers elsewhere within the company, such as plants, distribution centres and stores. The drivers who do not accept the new roles or opt to leave will may be given severance packages as per Safeway’s policies. An incentive bonus will be given to those who stay on till the end of February. Safeway maintains that these layoffs have nothing to do with Prop 22.