A coalition of City Council Members held a rally to introduce a new bill to protect delivery workers from being shortchanged from employment protections on April 27.
“All too often we pay lip service to essential workers. Talk is cheap, real action is much better. Today we are taking action, we are taking the first steps in making things better,” said Councilmember Justin Brannan.
City Hall Park was the scene of a coalition between elected officials and delivery workers Tuesday afternoon as politicians look to introduce new legislation that hopes to benefit those who have been keeping the Big Apple’s belly full throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
It has been a long road for delivery workers to get to this point. Despite placing their lives at risk throughout the course of the pandemic by spending 12 plus hours carting other people’s diner around town while the majority of the city was quarantining, carriers are often shortchanged and disrespected. They bore the brunt of delivering groceries, meals, and even alcohol in the rain, sleet, snow, and scorching heat with deplorable treatment from employers and businesses.
These essential workers say they are denied use of the bathrooms from restaurants, including those they frequently pick up from unless they themselves make a purchase. Moreover, they are forced to make long treks with no designated areas to take a break and eat lunch, which has resulted in severe injury and even death—the most recent of which occurred on Sunday when a deliveryman was struck by a stray bullet in Brooklyn.
Advocates have been calling attention to these issues and have been urging for change for months, now elected officials say it is time to make that change.
“I think it is fair to say that delivery workers have been some of the most essential in our city. For over a year they have put their lives at risk to provide for their families and keep millions of New Yorkers fed throughout the entire COVID-19 pandemic, but sadly they aren’t being treated as essential by some of their employers and some of the restaurants that rely on their services,” Council member Carlina Rivera said amidst the gathering at 2:30pm.
Rivera was joined by fellow Council Members Justin Brannan and Carlos Manchaca who have put their names on a legislation package alongside Council Members Margaret Chin and Brad Lander that aims to give delivery workers their just desserts. The bills, which are set to be introduced on April 29, will require restaurants to open their bathroom doors to workers under plenty of fines and allow workers to choose the distance they wish to travel on their route. Not only that, but the bills would also necessitate transparency regarding how much of a tip a given worker would receive, while also requiring the city to establish minimum per trip payments.
The Workers Justice Project—an organization fighting for the rights of low-wage immigrant New Yorkers—helped support and conceive the bills. They estimate about 80,000 delivery workers in New York, a number Workers Justice Project says has increased exponentially since the pandemic from 50,000 to 80,000.
Although these legislations would go a long way to aid those struggling to carve out a living, supporters declare there is a lot more work to be done. Workers are risk of assaults and robbery attempts, and with their E-bikes being their sole source of income they have been wounded trying to protect their cycles. It is with this in mind, advocates are also calling for the bikes to be provided by employers.
“We are hoping to get a hearing right away. We have heard from the Speaker as being supportive, so we are hoping to get a hearing in the next few weeks and June at the latest,” Councilmember Rivera said.