After delivery men brave Ida, advocates call for better working conditions

When Mayor Bill de Blasio urged New Yorkers to stay home and take shelter from the downpour and flood on Wednesday night, a group of people continued to come out: the food delivery men, many of them were motivated by the incentives of delivery apps.

After video of a courier riding his bike through waist-deep cloudy water to deliver food to a customer sparked outrage, labor rights activists called out the city and the delivery apps increase minimum wages and strengthen security protections.

“The mayor says, ‘Go home.’ But the apps offer economic incentives to workers. “No, stay out, stay out,” “said Hildalyn Colón, policy director of Los Deliveristas Unidos, an advocacy group for workers delivering food in the city.

Food delivery companies offer extra cash when demand is high or in bad weather, leading some couriers to risk their safety for the promise of potentially higher wages. Summer is also a slack season in the delivery industry, so many workers jump at the chance to earn more, even in dangerous conditions.

But on Wednesday night, many couriers barely made enough money to justify the hours spent working hard in the floods, said Ligia Guallpa, executive director of the Workers Justice Project. Some Grubhub employees told him they made as little as $ 2 more per delivery, she said.

For the Relay delivery service, which allows restaurants to have food delivered through any delivery app, workers must make at least 90% of their scheduled deliveries to be paid, Colón said.

“That’s why you see these workers in the middle of the moving water holding a bag, trying to hold it together,” Ms. Colón said. A representative for the Relais did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Workers fear retaliation from companies if they choose to refuse deliveries or sign the app to return home, Ms. Guallpa said. Without the legal protections of full-time employment, there is little to prevent them from getting lower grades or being turned off by apps if they refuse deliveries, she said. declared.

“Workers were surprised that companies were not pushing them to return home, and there was no communication that there would be no retaliation if they chose not to take these deliveries,” said Mrs. Guallpa.

DoorDash spokeswoman Campbell Millum said in a statement that while some workers may have been offered incentive bonuses on Wednesday night, the company now regrets pressuring them to continue to work.

“While we were able to halt delivery in parts of the city when the flash floods occurred, we should have acted faster and more comprehensively to suspend orders, turn off incentives to put dasher on the road and communicate with all our stakeholders, ”she said, adding that the company“ is putting in place controls to do better in the future ”.

A spokesperson for Grubhub said drivers’ payment per order increased by a “double-digit percentage” on Wednesday evening and drivers would not be penalized for refusing orders. Deliveries were also halted in parts of New York on Wednesday evening, he said, without giving details.

Equipment breakdowns add to the difficulties encountered by delivery people. A worker who lives in the Bronx had to spend all the money he made that night to repair the water damage on his electric scooter, Ms Guallpa said.

Los Deliveristas and the Workers Justice Project hope to pass a worker protection legislative package through city council later this year.

“People asked, ‘Why did they risk their lives?’ This is how they make a living, ”said Colón. “When they offer you $ 2, for them it’s like a lifeline.”

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