On Monday morning, delivery workers and their supporters gathered outside the gates of New York City Hall, demanding that the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) modify its recent proposal to increase the minimum wage for app-based delivery workers. Although the workers present applauded the proposal, they say it doesn’t go far enough.
Last week, after years of organizing by immigrant delivery workers, DCWP announced its proposal for a minimum wage for New York City’s 65,000 app-based restaurant delivery workers. Given that delivery workers are classified as independent contractors, they are excluded from receiving a minimum wage, expense reimbursement, or other benefits like health insurance. On average, delivery workers make about $7.09 an hour.
The new proposal, which was mandated by a New York City law enacted last October, would be the among the first of its kind in the nation and would give delivery workers a considerable bump in pay, eventually raising their average hourly minimum wage to $23.82 per hour by 2025. Broken down, delivery workers would make $19.86 as a base rate, then they would also receive an additional $2.26 to cover workers’ expenses and $1.70 to reflect the absence of workers’ compensation insurance.
“Restaurant delivery workers serve our city every day, in all weather conditions, only to earn less than minimum wage with no benefits,” said DCWP Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga. “This proposed minimum pay rate would help guarantee delivery workers a more dignified pay and rightfully establish pay equity with other workers who earn a minimum wage.”
Nevertheless, delivery workers with Los Deliveristas Unidos and the Worker’s Justice Project say the proposal is a good start but needs to be slightly modified to meet the material needs of delivery workers. In addition to hazard pay, workers are asking for an increase in the expense rate by $5 to include the considerable expense delivery workers often encumber, like gas and safety equipment. The adjusted figures would boost delivery workers’ hourly pay to $28.82 an hour by 2025.
“We are here because the Deliveristas Minimum Pay proposed by the city needs to be adjusted, and the current numbers don’t represent our needs with the Deliveristas,” said Antonio “Toño” Martinez Solis, a Los Deliveristas Unidos Worker Leader from Astoria, Queens. “The expenses that the city calculated do not include our operating expenses for Deliveristas – like me, who use a motorcycle for work.”
Council Member Shahana Hanif, Chair of the Committee on Immigration, was on hand to support the worker’s demands.
“Deliveristas are the lifeblood of our City’s economy,” she said. “I’m proud to support the demands for a livable hourly wage to better reflect their hard work. DCWP’s Minimum Pay Proposed Rule is a good start, but I urge our City to listen to our Deliveristas to understand what they need to do their jobs and adequately support their families. They deserve better.”
New York is only the latest city attempting to deliver economic justice for delivery workers. In June, Seattle become the first city to legislate a minimum wage for app-based delivery workers when its City Council passed the “Pay Up” bill that would increase delivery workers’ minimum wage to $17.27 per hour, which is Seattle’s current minimum wage. In Portland, Maine, a ballot measure that would require rideshare and delivery app companies to classify their workers as employees was rejected by voters earlier this month.
DCWP declined to discuss its views on the proposal to tweak its plan but they encouraged workers as well as all New Yorkers to submit comments ahead of a public hearing on the proposal which is currently scheduled for December 16th. They assured that all feedback would be considered before the final rule goes into effect.
Hildalyn Colón Hernández, Director of Policy & Strategic Partnerships Los Deliveristas/ Workers Justice Project, believes that an economic win for delivery workers will be an economic win for all of New York.
“This pay will guarantee Deliveristas will be able to pay for each hour of their work and put the much-needed income directly in the pockets of working-class New Yorkers as the administration focuses on accelerating the City’s economic recovery,” she said. “More money in Deliverista’s pocket is not only a game-changer for the workers and their families, but it will have a major economic impact in every neighborhood of NYC.”