The City Council has passed a historic slate of bills meant to improve working conditions for New York City’s delivery workers. It’s a big deal: The package — a direct response to the activism of Los Deliveristas Unidos, a group of mostly immigrant delivery workers — ensures delivery drivers bathroom access and minimum pay per trip, among other long-overdue protections.
“We’ve seen them face everything from COVID-19 exposure to waist-deep flood waters to violent attacks, all in a day’s work,” Councilmember Carlina Rivera, who’s worked closely with Los Deliveristas, told Grub via email before the vote. “The package of bills passing today marks a critical first step toward securing rights, protections, and justice for our delivery workers.”
The measures even had support from at least one major delivery platform: a spokesperson for GrubHub told The City that the company “supports the proposals … that would provide a number of new protections.”
So what are those proposals, exactly, and how do they affect delivery workers? Here’s a breakdown of the basics:
Delivery workers will (finally) be allowed to use the bathroom
During the pandemic, the right to pee became a hot-button issue. Most other bathroom options had evaporated, and yet many restaurants wouldn’t let delivery workers use their bathrooms (even though, one might note, those same delivery workers were a lifeline for restaurants, which for months were prohibited from serving on the premises at all). New York City still won’t have an actual public-bathroom infrastructure, but a bill from Councilmember Rivera requires restaurants to allow delivery workers to use their restrooms as long as they’re picking up an order. Restaurants caught denying workers access will face fines — $50 for the first offense and $100 for every violation after.
There will be minimum per-trip payments
On average, delivery workers earn $7.87 an hour before tips, or about half of the city’s minimum wage, according to a recent report from the Workers’ Justice Project and the Worker Institute at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell. With tips, that goes up to $12.21 — still well below the minimum. This bill changes that by establishing minimum per-trip payments independent of tips.
Apps will have to tell customers where their tips go
Any app that solicits tips will now be required to disclose to customers exactly where that money goes. That means laying out how much of each tip goes to the delivery worker, in what form it gets to the delivery worker (is it cash?), and whether the tip is paid out immediately.
The apps will also be required to extend that kind of transparency to delivery workers, who will be immediately notified if they’d been tipped, how much they’d been tipped, whether a customer had made changes to an existing tip, and, if a reason was provided, why. Every day, the platforms will now be required to alert workers of their total earnings — in both compensation and gratuities — from the day before.
Payment — and payment schedule — will be more regulated
This one is relatively straightforward: Delivery platforms will no longer be allowed to charge workers any fees to receive wages and tips, will be required to pay workers at least once a week, and are required to offer at least one payment option that doesn’t require a bank account.
Delivery companies will have to provide workers with insulated bags
Those ubiquitous thermal delivery bags? They’re an unofficial job requirement, workers say, and could run them up to $60 out of pocket. Now, though, food-delivery apps will be required to make the insulated bags available to any courier who has completed at least six deliveries for the company, and are prohibited from charging any money for the bags.
Workers can limit their personal delivery zones
The most controversial of the bunch, delivery workers will now be able to set limits on how far they’re willing to travel for a delivery. The’ll also be able specify whether or not they’ll accept trips over bridges and tunnels — known danger zones for e-bike couriers — without penalty.
For Sergio Ajche, a Guatemalan food-delivery worker and organizer with Los Deliveristas, this is only the beginning. “These six bills will help workers, but they’re not enough,” he told The City yesterday. “Only time, each passing day will inform us what else we should change and demand. Every day more delivery workers are getting together and the movement grows. We’re making progress.”
The package now goes to de Blasio — a supporter of the measures — to sign.