New York City is slated to approve a package of bills aimed at improving pay and working conditions for food-delivery employees, including for Grubhub, DoorDash, and UberEats.
The measures would require restaurant access to bathrooms, set a minimum pay per trip and a guarantee for full tips, and allow the workers to set limits on their routes. The council is posed to vote on the measures on Thursday.
The move comes as gig companies fight across the U.S. to defend their business models that rely on contractors. These app-based companies have endorsed offering basic benefits in exchange for the flexibility of remaining contractors, but not the full rights of an employee.
In New York City, an estimated 65,000 food delivery drivers were deemed essential workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. These workers, classified as independent contractors, don’t have access to benefits such as minimum wage or overtime, which prompted a push from worker advocates to bolster protections over the last year.
This dynamic played out in California with a $220 million voter initiative, Proposition 22, that gave drivers access to certain benefits such as a health care stipend and a minimum wage floor. The gig companies are backing a similar effort in Massachusetts.
DoorDash, Grubhub and UberEats sued to block a previous bill passed by the New York City Council that would cap delivery fees. It appears that Thursday’s new bills have some support from at least some of the delivery companies, however, including from Grubhub and DoorDash. Uber didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Workers said they planned to rally outside of City Hall on Thursday in support of the bills, similar to other protests held this year led by a grassroots advocacy group Los Deliveristas, which have advocated for better working conditions for app-based delivery drivers.
The Covid-19 pandemic pushed many unemployed New Yorkers to turn to app-based delivery services, which surged in popularity as restaurants closed throughout the city. A study from Cornell said that 75% of delivery workers joined the industry because they lost work during the pandemic.
After accounting for expenses, the median hourly wage for delivery workers in New York City is $7.94, excluding tips, according to a study conducted by the Worker’s Justice Project in partnership with Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. The minimum wage in New York is $15 an hour for employees. Data from the study also show that 65% of the delivery workers surveyed were denied access to a restaurant bathroom.