The New York City Council today passed bills that will set the minimum wage and improve working conditions for gig workers who deliver for apps like Grubhub, DoorDash, and Uber Eats. More specifically, bills allow delivery drivers to use restaurant restrooms, limit how far they can be asked to deliver, set minimum travel payments, and ensure tips get to workers. This legislation is the first of its kind in any major city in the United States, setting a precedent for how government intervention can influence the relationship between food delivery companies and their many, many thousands of contractors.
This package of bills was written with input from Los Deliveristas Unidos (LDU), a collective of mostly immigrant application delivery workers that was born out of the Workers’ Justice Project. The group has been protesting for better working conditions during the pandemic and, in April, they publicly joined forces with SEIU Local 32BJ, New York’s largest service workers union.
“The bitter truth is that many food delivery workers can work 12 hours a day in the cold or rain for multiple foodservice applications and still not earn enough to feed their own families,” the article reads. LDU website.
An LDU organizer told VICE that concert workers can be financially incentivized to work during rain and snow storms, so dangerous weather can be an opportunity to earn more money. Earlier this month, when Hurricane Ida struck New York City and caused 13 deaths, app delivery workers were still bringing food to people, wading through the foot of the floodwaters to fill an order. DoorDash suspended service in Manhattan, and Grubhub suspended service in certain parts of New York City. But many concert workers continued to seek bonuses and incentives where they could, even if it meant putting themselves in physical danger.
The conditions of Hurricane Ida illuminated a truth that has been obvious for years: Delivery app contractors struggle to earn a living wage, incentivizing them to put themselves in jeopardy for extra money. At the same time, companies like DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub are still not making any money, even after doing more business than ever in the pandemic.
An LDU report surveyed more than 500 app-based messengers in New York and found that, including tips, the median hourly net wage was around $ 12.21, which falls below the $ 15 minimum wage of the New York City. On top of that, delivery workers are expected to pay for their own transportation, which in New York City, is often via electric bikes. Delivery drivers are also especially vulnerable to theft. The report also found that 49% of those surveyed had been in an accident or collision while making a delivery, and 75% of those people said they paid for medical care out of their own funds. However, DoorDash told TechCrunch that Dashers in Manhattan make $ 33 an hour.
“We recognize the unique challenges delivery workers face in New York City and we share the goal of identifying policies that help dashers and workers like them. That is why last year, we announced a set of industry-leading initiatives. to improve Dasher safety, strengthen profits, and expand access to restrooms. We will continue to work with all stakeholders, including the City Council, to identify ways to support all delivery workers in New York City without consequence unwanted, “a DoorDash spokesperson said in a statement provided to TechCrunch.
DoorDash also noted some concerns with the bills, saying the bathroom access bill doesn’t actually require restaurants to allow bathroom access; Instead, companies like DoorDash have to include provisions in their contracts with restaurants that require them to allow delivery men to use their bathrooms.
Grubhub also expressed support for the bills. The company told TechCrunch in a statement: “These bills are common sense steps to support delivery workers who work hard every day for New York restaurants and residents. Make sure they receive a living wage and having access to the restrooms is not just a good idea, it’s the right thing to do. ”
Concert workers for other applications experience similar problems as application delivery couriers. Earlier this week, the Gig Workers Collective, which represents some 13,000 Instacart contractors, urged clients to remove the app until Instacart meets five demands to increase pay and improve conditions for workers. Because the workers on these apps are contractors, rather than employees, they have fewer protections, such as the guarantee of earning a minimum hourly wage. Instacart has even subsidized workers’ wages with their tips in the past.
For some 80,000 delivery workers in New York City, today’s legislation marks a positive change. But it’s unclear how or if tech companies will be responsible for paying these minimum wages and ensuring that workers’ needs are met.