On September 23, 2021, the New York City Council voted to pass a group of bills that guarantees various rights to food delivery workers who work for apps like Grubhub, Uber Eats, Relay, and DoorDash bringing food throughout the city. The new laws make sure that the delivery workers have bathroom access, minimum pay, and the right to choose how far they will go to make a delivery and whether they will cross a bridge or tunnel while working and are expected to be signed by Mayor Bill DeBlasio very soon.
The September 23 vote was a great win for Los Deliveristas Unidos, an organized group of delivery workers, that has been fighting for these basic protections since the beginning of the pandemic. When the pandemic started and restaurants all around the city closed, thousands of restaurant workers lost their jobs and started delivering food instead. Now, New York City has over 80,000 delivery workers which is more than anywhere else in the U.S. Most of these workers are immigrants. Many delivery workers have had trouble with being underpaid or not paid at all, being robbed or injured while working, not having protective equipment like masks and gloves, and not even being able to use a bathroom while working over 12-hour days to support their families.
The bills were sponsored by a group of eleven council members and supported by Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council speaker Corey Johnson. So far, a spokesperson from both Grubhub and Relay have expressed their support of the bills, but it is unclear if the other app companies will also be supportive or will try to push back.
New York City is now the first major U.S. city to have these basic protections for app-based delivery workers. Though many workers, organizers, and their supporters are excited for this win, there is still a big difference in the rights of these workers compared to workers who are considered full employees. Governor Kathy Hochul has said that she will look into reclassifying app-based workers as employees so more wins for these workers may be coming in the future.