Miserable wages, mistreatment, abuse, theft of their motorcycles and bicycles, offenses, and even yelling and physical attacks, have become the daily bread of many of the more than 65,000 food delivery people who make their living on the streets of New York City, off their two-wheelers. “If you have not ever been robbed, if you have not been yelled at, and if you have not had to put up with the urge to urinate, because the mijitorios deny you and make longer trips than the application said, then you are not delivery” , he assures with frustration Daniel Morales, who has been working as a deliveryman for three years in the county of The Bronx, narrating what the life of that union can be.
It is that despite being fulfilling the role of “Essential workers”, which has earned them public mentions and many applause and thanks in speeches by political leaders, the reality, according to their own accounts, is that they are one of the most unprotected and abandoned industry in the Big Apple. According to Morales, It seems that “they see them as robots that do not deserve the treatment I say of any employee”.
And the panorama of the so-called “deliveristas” It is so critical, that due to the rise of food delivery applications, which are now the ones that set the pace for the business, they are not even considered workers. The deliverers of companies such as UberEats, DoorDash, Postmate y GrubHub, that control the delivery industry, they do not have any protection if something happens to them, if they are injured or if they are stolen, nobody is responsible for them; and as if it were a detail that many do not fit in the head, even in many restaurants they don’t even lend them the bathrooms.
Therefore, and in the hope that soon “the miracle” is performed for them and “a light on the road” appears to them, in the middle of their daily trips collecting bags in restaurants in Queens, Javier Vargas, has not stopped praying that this week, the Municipal Council finally move from words to deeds and give them the guarantees and protections they have been crying out for for a long time.
That is the feeling of the 37-year-old Mexican, who has joined the struggle of the called the delivery movement, which since last year has been seen more, with demonstrations, protests, caravans through the streets of Manhattan and coalitions with legislative leaders who are pushing a package of at least six laws that would change their lives.
This explains it too Ligia Guallpa, director of the Labor Justice Project, which helped organize the delivery men, with the creation of the “United Deliveristas de Nueva York” movement, of which thousands of workers in the Big Apple are already a part, who increasingly insist that their voice will not be silenced, until all their claims are heard and actions are taken.
“This week we hope New York does the right thing and that the City Council approve the basic protections that for years the city has refused to give workers in the delivery industry, ”said the community activist. “It is inconceivable that we still have our deliveries working long hours under all kinds of risks and that are not even recognized as workers by the apps that every time they get richer and they refuse to give them a fair salary for the essential work that they carry out ”.
The defender of the deliveristas was optimistic that the legislative body of the Big Apple, where councilors such as Carlina Rivera, Carlos Menchaca, Justin Branna and Brad Lander, They have been promoting initiatives that shield the distributors against abuses and even in some cases exploitations that they denounce, will give the green light to fair laws.
“I think we are about to reach a historic moment in which this Council is going to set an example at the national level, making the applications more transparent and that they begin to treat with respect and dignity that the workers who keep the communities afloat have their basic protections such as fair wages ”, Guallpa added. “We are in a state of emergency in this industry and we have to put solutions right now.”
The package of laws includes projects that make it mandatory for restaurants to provide the bathroom to delivery men, that a mechanism is established for apps to pay fair wages to workers, that distance limits and work areas are determined where delivery drivers can choose freely work and not be imposed, that the delivery drivers are not charged any percentage when it comes to paying them, and that protections against theft and insurance are given.
Hernan Martinez, who has been working as a delivery boy in Long Island City and Brooklyn since 2019, and who has already suffered the theft of two electric motorcycles and had an accident while exercising, implored the leaders of the City Council to approve all the protections that exist on the table, and do justice to your guild.
“It is the least they can do for usWell, practically what the applications are doing is like a modern slavery, where many times we are going to take to distant places for a very bad tip that does not give us a decent income at the end of the day, “said the Colombian worker. “I ask the Council to first of all make them pay us a salary, that they protect us with theft insurance and that we can freely decide where we go and which ones would not, it would change our lives from heaven to earth ”.
A recent survey of the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations carried out between food delivery people, where 85% said they dedicate themselves only to that work, evidenced that while in New York the minimum wage is $ 15 per hour, the vast majority of deliveries who work for applications, earn an average of $ 7.87 Likewise, almost half of those surveyed revealed having had at least one accident while working.
This work is also considered high risk, given that dozens of delivery men, nine of them this year, have died in New York, some run over and others murdered for robbing them. Similarly, 54% have been subjected to theft of parts of their vehicles, 30% have been the object of theft of their bicycles and motorcycles and 42% said that the payment was not reliable, because sometimes the applications deposit them less money than they show them that they earned in tips.
The president of the City Council, Corey Johnson, It did not reveal exactly what day of the week the expected package of laws will be put to a vote, but warned that it supports giving delivery drivers the guarantees they deserve.
“At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the delivery men risked their lives to bring us food so we could be safe. Now is the time to protect them, ”said the leader of the legislative body. “The Council is working on a legislative package to ensure that couriers, the majority of whom are immigrants, have the necessary protections and employment rights they need to continue serving our City.”
Councilor Carlina Rivera, who is seen as the next president of the Municipal Council, and who has fought a tough battle for the defense of the distributors, demanded respect for that union and seemed not to be very convinced that this week the protection package will be voted on.
“Since our hearing in June, we have been in the fight of our lives to get the bills in the legislative package are approved before the end of the period in December“Commented the young politician. “It has been an honor to work closely with the Workers Justice Project and Los Deliveristas Unidos for over a year to develop this legislation, and I intend to see it through to the end. The fight continues ”.
But app companies seem to have a very different view of the reality of the workers.
DoorDash not only denied that the dealers’ allegations and Cornell’s report are true, but also assured that the company is “actively engaged” in the search for improvements for deliveries, and that its drivers earn more than double the minimum hourly wage, something the workers deny.
“Dashers (DoorDash deliverers) constantly tell us that they use our platform because it gives them the ability to supplement their income and control when, where and how they work. We are proud to help expand economic opportunity in New York, with Dashers earning an average of more than $ 33 per hour working in Manhattan, including 100% of their tips “a DoorDash spokeswoman said. “DoorDash is constantly working to support Dashers and improve working conditions for all delivery workers, which is why last year we announced a series of industry-leading initiatives focused on strengthening safety, expanding access to restrooms and protect profits ”.
The spokeswoman also mentioned that they provide free and discounted road safety equipment to delivery drivers, identify restrooms in hundreds of restaurants that Dashers can use when picking up an order, and provide resources to reduce their expenses.
“We are actively engaged in the Dasher community and look forward to continuing to work with legislators in ways that all stakeholders can better support New York City delivery workers,” the spokesperson concluded.
- Deliveries in New York in figures
- Minimum 65,000 delivery drivers are estimated to be in New York
- 90,000 came to be in the pandemic
- 6 bill in favor of the deliveries is in the municipal council
- 85% of deliveries are dedicated to that job only, according to a recent Cornell survey
- $ 15 an hour is the minimum wage in NY, but many deliveries earn an average of $ 7.87
- 54% of the deliveries have been the object of theft of parts of their vehicles
- 30% have been stripped of their electric scooters and bicycles
- 42% of deliveries say they have no confidence in the payments of apps that deposit less than their tips show
- 9 delivery drivers have lost their lives so far in 2021
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.