We Had New York City’s Back During the Pandemic. Now We Need It to Have Ours.

We Had New York City’s Back During the Pandemic. Now We Need It to Have Ours.

We Had New York City’s Back During the Pandemic. Now We Need It to Have Ours.

It’s time for Mayor Eric Adams to stop stalling and make good on his promise of a minimum wage for delivery workers.

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Is the food okay?”

That was the first message Gustavo received after notifying the app company he worked for that an electric bike had slipped on black ice and sent him flying to the ground in Chelsea while rushing to complete a delivery in December 2020.

In an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island, Chris told management that a direct report was showing signs of Covid-19. The response? “Keep it hush-hush.”

During the dark times of the pandemic, essential workers—from those who got sick and still put in 60 hours a week in Amazon warehouses just to get by, to those biking through cities relying only on tips to deliver warm food to your door during lockdown—were invisible and silenced.

We know because we lived it. As essential workers in New York City, we both have experienced what it’s like to be taken advantage of and disregarded by giant companies firsthand. That’s why we have been organizing for two years, building worker movements that stand up to corporations that denied us the dignity of a living wage and basic protections.

And thanks to the collective power of essential workers, we made strides in demanding our seat at the table. We unionized the first Amazon warehouse, and Los Deliveristas Unidos, a collective group of workers organized by the Worker’s Justice Project, secured a commitment from New York City of a minimum wage for food delivery workers beginning this year.

Today, our fight is far from over. The Adams administration failed to meet the deadline to enact the minimum pay law and continues to delay the process, bending to the pressures of big app companies.

We will not be swayed. In fact, we are more energized than ever. The same resiliency that we bring every day to our jobs in Amazon warehouses and on the streets of American cities in any weather, emergency, or pandemic, will fuel this fight until essential workers get what they deserve.

There’s no more time for delays, public hearings, or backroom conversations. We see the rippling effects of worker movements around the country and across high-growth industries, whose profits we have carried on our backs for far too long. Tomorrow—Friday, April 7—we will band together again for yet another hearing on the long-overdue minimum pay rate for food delivery workers and push back against the big app companies that have forced New York City’s unlawful delay in enacting a 2021 law.

Our demands are backed by research. The City’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection—the very agency that refuses to enact our landmark legislation—highlighted the growing gap between what delivery workers make and the profits the big app companies rake in. In the report, the agency claimed that the minimum pay legislation was a “relatively simple design, and feasible to implement for both apps” and New York City.

Delivery workers, like all workers, deserve fair living wages to support themselves and their families. The average current hourly pay for Deliveristas in New York City is around $11 an hour after expenses and including tips—a fraction of the average meal order purchased through most food delivery apps. Some delivery workers also spend close to $17,000 a year on operating expenses. E-bikes, which became necessary for delivery workers during the pandemic, cost hundreds—sometimes thousands—of dollars.

Even when we have been vilified, undercut, and dismissed at every turn, together we have achieved important victories: We secured delivery workers’ right to use restrooms at restaurants, and we forced the delivery apps to disclose how little we are paid. We have also laid the groundwork for “Street Deliveristas Hubs” in New York City, which will provide delivery workers a place to safely rest and recharge during shifts.

The pandemic exacerbated an unregulated marketplace where we continue to be pitted against consumers. Big app companies will ensure that the news cycle sounds the alarm that your next order will be more expensive, but say little about how our livelihoods are reduced to nothing to please investors the next quarter.

Time and again, multibillion-dollar corporations have shown they will stop at nothing to hold us back. They have every incentive to continue putting profits above our safety and our rights, as they always have.

Enough is enough. Now is the time to guarantee a living wage for delivery workers—and we won’t stop until that happens.

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