NYC Passes Bills to Improve Conditions of app-based Delivery Workers

The New York City Council enacted legislation today that establishes minimum compensation and improves working conditions for gig workers who deliver food for Grubhub, DoorDash, and Uber Eats. The proposals, in particular, allow delivery employees to use restaurant restrooms, limit the distance to which they can be asked to deliver, establish minimum wages each trip, and ensure that tips are distributed to workers. This bill is the first of its kind in any major U.S. city, and it establishes a precedent for how government interference can affect the relationship between food delivery firms and their tens of thousands of contractors.

Los Deliveristas Unidos (LDU), a collective of primarily immigrant app delivery workers born out of the Workers Justice Project, helped write this package of measures. Throughout the pandemic, the organization has been demonstrating for better working conditions, and in April, they openly joined forces with SEIU Local 32BJ, NYC’s largest service workers’ union.

“The harsh reality is that many food delivery employees can work 12 hours a day for many foodservice apps in the cold or rain and yet not make enough money to support their own families,” according to the LDU website.

Gig workers can be financially rewarded to work during rain and snowstorms, according to an LDU organizer, so adverse weather can be an opportunity to make extra money. While Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc on New York City, killing 13 people, app delivery workers continued to carry meals, wading through feet of water to finish an order. DoorDash has halted service in Manhattan and Grubhub has halted service in several areas of the city. Many gig workers, on the other hand, continued to look for bonuses and incentives wherever they could, even if it meant putting their lives in danger.

Hurricane Ida brought to light a truth that has been clear for years: delivery app contractors struggle to make a fair wage, incentivizing them to put themselves in danger for extra money. Meanwhile, while conducting more business than ever during the pandemic, companies like DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub are nonetheless losing money.

According to a report by the LDU, which surveyed more than 500 app-based couriers in NYC, the average hourly net pay was roughly $12.21, which is less than New York City’s $15 minimum wage. Furthermore, delivery workers must pay for their own transportation, which in New York City is frequently by e-bike.

Delivery personnel is particularly prone to theft. According to the report, 49% of respondents had been in an accident or crash while delivering a package, and 75% of those people stated they paid for medical care with their own money. DoorDash, on the other hand, informed TechCrunch that dashers in Manhattan make $33 an hour.

“We understand the specific issues that delivery workers face in New York City, and we share the goal of creating legislation that would benefit Dashers and other delivery employees. As a result, we launched an industry-leading set of steps last year to improve Dasher safety, increase profitability, and expand restroom access.