BY THE VILLAGE SUN | App-based restaurant delivery workers will soon earn $18 an hour — and eventually at least $20 an hour — under a new minimum pay rate established by the city.
Mayor Adams and Vilda Vera Mayuga, the commissioner of the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, on Sunday announced that New York City has set a first-of-its-kind minimum pay rate for the app-based restaurant delivery workers.
The army of more than 60,000 deliver workers speeding around the city currently earn only slightly more than $7 an hour on average. Under the new regulation, they will earn at least $19.96 an hour. Restaurant delivery apps will also have flexibility in how they pay delivery workers the new minimum rate.
“‘Getting Stuff Done’ for working people is what this administration is all about, and that includes some of the hardest-working New Yorkers: our delivery workers,” Adams said. “Our delivery workers have consistently delivered for us — now, we are delivering for them. This new minimum pay rate, up by almost $13 an hour, will guarantee these workers and their families can earn a living, access greater economic stability and help keep our city’s legendary restaurant industry thriving.”
“Today is a historic win for New York City’s delivery workers, who have done so much for all of us through rain, snow and throughout the pandemic,” said Commissioner Mayuga. “When the rate takes full effect, workers will make three times as much as they do now. I am proud that our city has fulfilled its promise to provide more stability and protections for 60,000 workers and get them a dignified pay rate.”
“Today we’re celebrating another major victory in our fight to deliver justice for the city’s delivery workers: raising their minimum wage to at least $19.96 an hour,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer. “Deliveristas are the American Dream, working hard to deliver for themselves and their families. Thank you to Ligia Guallpa and Gustavo Ache from Deliveristas Unidos, Mayor Adams, D.C.W.P. Commissioner Mayuga, and other elected officials who helped in this fight to organize. Si se puede!”
The final rate takes into account that, as independent contractors, delivery workers pay out-of-pocket for their expenses and do not have access to workers’ compensation insurance or paid time off, and must pay more in Medicare and Social Security contributions.
The pay rate will be $17.96 when it takes effect on July 12, and will increase to $19.96 when it is fully phased in on April 1, 2025. The rate will also be adjusted annually for inflation. Apps have the option to pay delivery workers per trip, per hour worked or develop their own formulas, as long as their workers make the minimum pay rate of $19.96, on average. Apps that pay workers for all the time a worker is connected to the app (the time waiting for trip offers and trip time) must pay at least $17.96 per hour in 2023, which is roughly 30 cents per minute, not including tips. Apps that only pay for trip time (the time from accepting a delivery offer to dropping off the delivery) must pay at least about 50 cents per minute of trip time in 2023, not including tips.
D.C.W.P. found that workers spend roughly 60 percent of their working time engaged in trips and 40 percent on call. For example, on a given day, a worker may be on call awaiting trip offers for four hours and making deliveries for six hours. If that worker’s app only pays for trip time, the worker would make $179.60 based on the trip time rate when the rate takes effect in 2023. If, instead, the worker’s app pays for both trip time and on-call time, the worker will still make $179.60. Apps would have to calculate exact pay in accordance with the rule.
In September 2021, the New York City Council passed Local Law 115, requiring D.C.W.P. to study the pay and working conditions of app-based restaurant delivery workers and to establish a minimum pay rate for their work based on the study results. D.C.W.P. published its study last year, which drew from data obtained from restaurant delivery apps, like DoorDash, GrubHub, UberEats and Relay; surveys distributed to delivery workers and restaurants; testimony; discussions with stakeholders; and publicly available data. Members of the public, delivery workers and restaurant delivery apps submitted thousands of comments on the proposed minimum pay rule, which D.C.W.P. considered in developing the final rule.
In addition, last year the Adams administration announced it is working with Los Deliveristas Unidos to convert vacant newsstands into hubs for delivery workers to seek shelter from the elements, as well as charge electric bicycles and phones.
“Our 60,000 plus delivery workers make New York City run,” said Queens Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. “Whether a pandemic or a cloud of smoke, they are out in the streets braving dangerous traffic to bring New Yorkers whatever they need. Many of them are immigrants working day and night to achieve the American Dream. Just as they deliver for us, we will deliver for them. These workers deserve living wages, as opposed to the current average take home pay of $4.03 per hour without tips.”
“The implementation of minimum pay requirements for app-based delivery workers in New York City is a historic moment for workers’ rights in an era of new technology,” Councilmember Carlina Rivera. “I want to congratulate Los Deliveristas Unidos and the Workers Justice Project, whose tireless organizing and advocacy in pursuit of justice has secured fair compensation and workplace protections for over 60,000 workers. I commend Mayor Eric Adams and Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga for ensuring fair treatment and compensation for deliveristas, who have been on the front lines of natural disasters, extreme weather and the pandemic making sure New Yorkers have food, medicine and basic necessities in our times of need.”
However, while politicians and others hailed the pay raise as critical and the delivery workers as heroes, many locals — particularly older residents — say they are terrified by the ever-increasing number of delivery persons zipping every which way on the streets, sometimes through red lights and on sidewalks, too — and that the city isn’t doing anything about it.
Ironically, it’s younger New Yorkers — the city’s most able-bodied dwellers — who are kicking back and leading the way, by far, on app-delivery ordering. According to an analysis of Uber Eats customers by DrinksFeed in 2020, Generation Z and Millennials — basically, age 42 and under — make up almost two-thirds of all restaurant delivery-app users. Among earlier cohorts, Generation X accounts for around 20 percent of users, while Baby Boomers and the so-called Silent Generation, make up just 11 percent and 6 percent, respectively.
Yet, everyone will eventually be “assimilated,” at least according to the DrinksFeed post, which said, “Food delivery is here to stay and will only become more popular as time goes on. With all its benefits, it’s no wonder this type of service is becoming the go-to for many people. Millennials and Generation Z are currently leading the charge, but other age groups will soon follow suit. Ultimately, convenience is vital in food delivery, so this trend isn’t going anywhere soon. … [O]lder generations,” the blog added, “have more traditional habits when it comes to meals and may need to be more open to trying something new.”
At a community media meeting last November with Ydanis Rodriguez, the city’s Department of Transportation commissioner, a number of newspaper editors from across the city stressed to Rodriguez that their readers’ top concern was the Wild West, free-for-all environment on the streets and sidewalks created by the thousands of speeding food-delivery workers. In his remarks — before he was later bombarded with complaints about e-bikes and mopeds during the Q&A period — Rodriguez had emphasized that New York City simply does not have enough space for cars, and that people, for their health, should get out and bike and walk instead of use cars.
In an editorial, The Village Sun suggested, in the same vein, “And, as for health and walking, here’s an idea. What if Rodriguez urged all the couch potatoes who use delivery apps instead to get up and stroll to the corner store? Whoa — what a concept! In addition to getting some cardio, it would also help cut down on the chaos of speeding scooters and bikes.”