BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Shipt employees protested in downtown Birmingham after they said the company’s new pay algorithms have dropped their commissions drastically.

A few dozen protesters were gathered in from of the new Shipt building, expressing their frustration at how the company is treating essential workers during a pandemic.

In July, Shipt changed the way the company pays its employees. The previous pay scale gave employees a set percentage of the order total, in addition to a flat rate of $5 per order.

The new algorithm does not make it clear as to how the pay is determined.

“Now it’s very vague, it’s a black box algorithm, is what they’re calling it,” Melanie Evans, a Birmingham Shipt shopper, said.

CBS 42 reached out to Shipt in an attempt to understand their payment methods. A Shipt agent explained the company does not publish its payment formula. Pay is based on drive time, order items, and other factors.

For shoppers like Evans, Shipt is the main source of income for her household. Evans said the changes made in pay and caps placed on orders has made it hard to pay the bills.

“They have blocked us from being able to get more than one order per hour,” Evans said. “Which is like kicking us when we’re already down.”

Other protesters said the lack of transparency in the company’s new model was not designed with them in mind.

“The current model they’ve initiated is based on effort,” Willy Solis said. “However, they don’t define what effort is, because at the end of the day, it’s not the standard English dictionary version of effort.”

“I’m losing hundreds of dollars per week, my friends are losing hundreds of dollars per week,” Aly Hathcock said. “At the end of the day, we are essential workers…”

Protests will continue on Monday, in front of Target’s headquarters in Minneapolis.