New York City lawmakers have passed a landmark package of bills aimed at improving working conditions for workers in the odd-job and food delivery economy.
The first of its kind legislation, which targets app-based delivery companies like Grubhub, Uber Eats and Doordash, will set a minimum wage, allow workers to retain more tips, and limit the distance workers can be invited to. travel for deliveries. . It will also ensure workers have access to the toilets – an issue that has long plagued people in the odd-job economy and has been exacerbated by Covid-19 restrictions.
City Council Chairman Corey Johnson, speaking at a press conference after Thursday’s vote, said the package would give workers “the rights they deserve” and inspire future legislation.
“New York will now be the first city in the country to ensure delivery people are not exploited – to ensure people are treated with dignity and respect, that they are paid their wages and that they are not exploited. by these multi-billion dollar companies, “he said.
The legislation was drafted in collaboration with Los Deliveristas Unidos (LDU), a collective of mostly immigrant app delivery workers who have long demanded a living wage, access to toilets and the right to organize.
It comes as Covid-19 has increased consumer reliance on delivery services, leading to exponential growth in the industry over the past year. Uber Eats, the food delivery segment of ride-hailing company Uber, grew 190% in 2020, adding 36,000 couriers in New York City alone.
But the growing army of workers has found itself on the front lines of a pandemic with no health benefits and little job security. Many complain that they cannot access the restroom and often cannot see or access the tips that customers add to orders.
Excluding tips, the median hourly wage for delivery men in New York was $ 7.94 in 2020 according to a study by the Worker’s Justice Project. The net hourly wage including tips was consistently lower than the New York minimum wage of $ 15, at an average of $ 12.21.
A spokesperson for Grubhub said the company supported the bills, calling them “common sense measures to support delivery people who work hard every day for restaurants and New York residents.”
“Making sure they get a living wage and have access to a toilet isn’t just a good idea – it’s the right thing to do,” he said. DoorDash has also expressed support for the legislation.
Cities are increasingly cracking down on the odd-job economy. Chicago sued food delivery apps in August for misleading consumers, restaurants and workers – including “using consumer tips to pay for itself rather than its drivers.” In June, San Francisco voted to cap the delivery app fee charged to restaurants at 15%.
But some of the companies targeted by these efforts are also fighting back. California passed a law in 2020 allowing drivers to enjoy benefits and better pay, which industry giants like Uber quickly countered with their own exempting bills. Uber is now considering appealing after this bill, Proposition 22, was declared unconstitutional in August.
The workers themselves are also making their own efforts, demanding the benefits given to full-time employees, including better pay and the right to organize.
From this week, Instacart entrepreneurs called on customers to boycott the app because they demand better working conditions. In June, Uber and Lyft drivers took part in a day-long strike to demand the right to organize.
Worker advocates say New York’s bills are a good start but fail to address some broader concerns about the odd-job economy in the United States, and more comprehensive legislation nationwide is necessary.
“This is a great step in the right direction, but I fear that a piecemeal approach to addressing these serious issues will take the breath away from the movement for basic employment rights for these workers,” said Veena Dubal , professor of labor law at the University of California, Hastings.
She added that delivery people are at a very high risk of injury and should be entitled to workers’ compensation and health care when they are injured on the job.
“It’s better than nothing in the short term, but lawmakers shouldn’t think in passing these bills that they are doing enough,” she said.