Delivery workers thrust into front lines of COVID-19 fight: 'Don't give up, you are our heroes'
BREMERTON, Wash. -- We know first responders and health care workers are on the frontlines against COVID-19. But now anyone in the delivery business has been thrust into the front lines too.
“Don’t give up, you are our heroes, you don’t know how much a Godsend that little tiny delivery means,” Bremerton resident Nicole Wiggins said.
Wiggins had to take a break from working for Instacart as a contractor who shops and delivers groceries. She says she has stage 4 kidney failure and the job is too dangerous with the virus continuing to infect more people.
Now her husband Caleb is the one delivering groceries to keep the family afloat financially.
“We don’t know if my husband is going to contract something and bring it home to me you know it’s come to the point where I am home wearing a mask,” Wiggins said.
She’s also in the process of making more face masks after getting free kits from Joanne Fabrics.
“Matter of fact it comes with directions,” Wiggins said.
But the reality is no amount of face masks are enough to keep her worries at bay. What keeps the Wiggins family going is a sense of profound purpose.
Wiggins says recently her husband made a grocery delivery to a home in Silverdale. Through the device Ring he was able to talk to the other woman on the other side who told him she was waiting for COVID-19 test results.
“He came home in tears this woman was so thankful he was like this woman was literally on the other side of the door crying because she was so thankful she had mouths to feed she had kids there and she was waiting to see if her test was going to come back positive or negative,” Wiggins said.
On Wednesday, the group Working Washington says all contractors need extra help.
They want companies to provide paid sick leave, protective gear and even hazard pay.
“There is additional risk right now doing any kind of work right now and companies are booming like I said Instacart is hiring 300,000 new workers there is a lot of demand out there,” Sage Wilson of Working Washington said.
Instacart confirming to Q13 FOX that they are hiring 300,000 additional workers to meet the demand across the nation. They also say workers can receive up to 14 days of pay if they are diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed in individual mandatory isolation or quarantine by a health official or doctor.
Working Washington says that is going in the right direction but they want companies and the government do more.
They want paid sick leave for contractors even if it is not COVID-19 related.
Also Working Washington says contractors should get $5 in hazard pay for each delivery and another $5 for those people who not only deliver but shop for items.
Wilson also wants unemployment benefits extended to workers later when the demand for delivery jobs die down.
On Wednesday, Q13 FOX reached out to other companies like Uber and Amazon on what they are doing for their delivery drivers. Uber and Amazon have similar paid leave policies in place as Instacart for workers affected by COVID-19.
Amazon also says they have a relief fund with an initial contribution of $25 million to help financially distressed workers.