New York City Must Support Delivery Workers As Heroes

Published on March 31, 2021, 1:31 pm
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New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, Worker’s Justice Project Executive Director Ligia Guallpa, and Asian American Federation Executive Director Jo-Ann Yoo sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio calling on the City to treat delivery workers as the heroes that they are with real protections and action. The letter urged the Mayor to deliver a comprehensive plan to support these workers, including full transparency on every purchase made on delivery apps, guaranteed access to bathrooms, and protected bike infrastructure.

“Rain, snow, or shine, New York City’s delivery workers have worked through the CoViD-19 pandemic to ensure New Yorkers have access to food and other essential supplies, and their labor was a lifeline to restaurants and bars trying to remain open during the city’s darkest days. But that labor is too often kicked to the curb by exploitative food delivery apps and a lack of basic protections and services provided by the City,” said Comptroller Stringer. “We must recognize their hard work – and the often dangerous conditions in which they do it – with robust protections for their health, safety, and dignity. Delivery workers have been heroes during this pandemic, and it’s time to stand with them as they have stood for us.”

“It’s time for New York City to deliver essential rights for more than 80,000 food delivery workers, who are keeping New Yorkers fed and safe. This is an important moment in time, where app-based food delivery workers are not only rising up as Los Deliveristas Unidos, but are about to determine the future of our city and the labor movement. Let’s honor their contribution by guaranteeing essential rights and protecting them from corporate greed and power,” said Ligia Guallpa, Executive Director of Worker’s Justice Project.

“As an organization that fought to protect immigrant food delivery workers by pushing for the legalization of e-bikes, the Asian American Federation knows firsthand how vulnerable these essential workers are and the conditions they are forced to work in just to support themselves and their families. The City and State each have a role to play to ensure greater protections – really, basic rights – for a workforce that keeps the city running, during and beyond times of crisis,” said Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director, Asian American Federation.

The letter spotlighted the arduous labor and struggles that delivery workers have endured to deliver meals to millions of New Yorkers amid the CoViD-19 pandemic and called for the following recommendations:

  • Food delivery apps must provide full transparency on every purchase so that workers are getting fully compensated and no tips are being withheld. These companies should be required to submit data on every individual transaction and delivery – as is already the practice for app-based, for-hire-vehicle companies. This will help protect workers from being defrauded and help the Department of Transportation with streets planning and management.
  • Mandate full access to bathrooms at any restaurant for whom they are making a delivery. Too often, restaurant owners do not allow delivery workers who are serving their establishments to use available bathrooms and other amenities.
  • Massively expand protected bike infrastructure and protected bike parking to keep delivery workers safe and their bikes secure. The City must build out a connected, truly protected network of bike lanes around every neighborhood and commercial corridor. Lanes must be well-enforced, well-maintained, and widened to accommodate the growing volume of bike and e-bike riders.
  • Install 50 public bathrooms along commercial corridors throughout the City, benefitting e-delivery workers and all local residents and shoppers. This should be done quickly and inexpensively by locating high-quality trailer bathrooms in parking spots along major corridors – as are currently used on Governor’s Island and at Domino Park.
  • Dramatically expand and reform the City’s Crime Victim Assistance Program and the State’s Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund, especially for victims of robbery and hate crimes. Far too many delivery workers are assaulted and robbed regularly. Moving the CVAP program from the NYPD to the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice was a good first step; now both the State and City should provide compensation for stolen goods and free access to medical services at all H+H hospitals, as many of these workers are independent contractors and lack health insurance. The State should also pass legislation to ensure stronger protections that guarantee worker compensation in case of accidents.
  • The City should replicate its success with for-hire vehicle drivers and guarantee a minimum wage (including equipment expenses) for all delivery workers. Food delivery is extremely arduous and stressful labor. These workers have kept New Yorkers fed and restaurants afloat throughout this pandemic and deserve adequate compensation.
  • The Department of Buildings and the Department of Transportation should dramatically streamline canopy and awning installation for restaurants so that delivery workers have protection from the elements as they wait to pick up their order.
  • Work with our bus shelter franchisee to double the number of shelters throughout the five boroughs and to install heaters in these units. This will provide delivery workers with a place to warm up and benefit all bus riders.
  • Work with the State to pass A10974/S9019, sponsored by Assemblymember Robert Carroll (AD-44) and State Senator Julia Salazar (SD-18), subsidizing e-bike purchases up to 50 percent. As independent contractors, delivery workers are responsible for covering all equipment costs. Subsidizing e-bikes will be a boon for these workers—and help all New Yorkers move to a more sustainable future.
  • The City should improve outreach for its bike and e-bike registration program, going out into the field to meet delivery workers where they are and, if requested, etching serial numbers into their bikes. Moreover, they need to actually demonstrate the value of this program, tracking and increasing the number of stolen bikes that are recovered. If the program is not making a meaningful impact, it should be discontinued.
  • The City should coordinate with franchises, businesses, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Buildings to install more outlets throughout the five boroughs. This will help delivery workers to charge their phones and e-bike batteries, when needed.

To read the letter from Comptroller Stringer, Worker’s Justice Project Executive Director Ligia Guallpa, and Asian American Federation Executive Director Jo-Ann Yoo on the need to protect delivery workers, please visit here.

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