Food Delivery Apps Are Booming. Their Workers Are Often Struggling.

Nov 30, 2020 · 124 comments
Catherine (Brooklyn, NY)
I always give the tip to the delivery person. If I don't have money in the house for a tip, then it means I don't order. I want the driver to get the money not the owner.
molly (eureka, CA)
I hate that prop 22 in California failed. People should be earning a living wage. I feel guilty for using Instacart, even though I understand they do get the 20% tip. I try to make sure I have ordered at least $150 worth of groceries so it is worth their time.
Iirh cars (Toronto)
It is true that God delivery apps are mounting money these days specially Uber eats as their payments have drastically reduced. Before the average payment per delivery was $6 which now is $3. They have full control on tip system. They usually send email to clients for feedback and it usually includes option for tips for delivery driver. I am sure they are fiddling with that. Unfortunate are the ones are using their cars, their gas, their insurance and their own maintenance but getting paid so less without any benefits and ineligible for ei.
Rube (Cleveland, Ohio)
I make sure when I receive a delivery, that I tip the driver with cash. That way they have money on hand instead of waiting for their tip to come via credit card.
Liz CC (New York, NY)
great reminder to take out small bills at the ATM. i would say i tip in cash 30% of the time. goal to make that 100% beginning today.
Elizabeth (upstate)
I use Instacart to deliver groceries every two weeks or so. I always give a 20% tip online. Now I am worried that the delivery people are not getting the tips I know they need to survive. Next time I will ask if they are getting the tips they deserve. I am so grateful to them for making it possible for me to stay home (I am 74).
Suburban Cowboy (Dallas Tx)
Instacart delivers persons do get the tips. But the wage is paltry.
Liz CC (New York, NY)
@Elizabeth agree! A great reminder for me to tip in cash!!
C's D (Not on Bus Route)
Our family owns a deli in one of the Boroughs. Officially, we are closed. To the public that is. We have become a club -- a deli supply club. We buy from our usual purveyors, we make the specialities in-house as always. We deliver for a hefty fee, or you pick up for free at the alleyway entrance. We cater. Same options. You are vetted before acceptance and we do not advertise. There is no cyber presence. There is a minimum monthly purchase requirement. Up front. The family-member lawyer thinks we might pull off a "fraternal" designation for taxing purposes; the family-member cop provides intelligence, the family-member RN the inside dope. Family first, friends second and forget the rest.
Craig H. (Miami, FL)
Hey world, I am a working illustrator that spends 20 to 30 hours of my week as a bike courier for Uber Eats and Postmates. I have spent the last year since February 2019 riding for Uber Eats now that Postmates has dissolved, Uber has become my primary income. Since the pandemic struck, it has been very difficult to advance, as of August 2019 they cut my original pay rate by 48% since then, that this past October, they effectively cut it again. So, we went from making on average per order delivery $4-$5 originally, then $3.00-3.50, to now just over $2.50. Luckily, I am on a bicycle (I do also have an electric bike, but that is limited to dry, sunny days, a couple hours riding time, and costs a bit more to operate.) I admit my overhead is reasonably lower than most drivers that are in cars. Still, I wish Uber paid more that I could advance my setup faster than grinding practically a whole week for $200 and would end up having to give more time to doing this, as basically it's I am getting paid to exercise. It's still a slave's drudgery.
Andrew (NYC)
I don’t get why people are so lazy. It’s so easy, especially in NYC, to walk 5 blocks and pickup your food. Yes, some people can’t, but most are just lazy.
MPark (Rego Park)
Not true Andrew, places that I order from require at least 20 minutes or some places 45 minutes to get to to walk, if it was only 5 blocks I would do it myself!
Andrew (NYC)
I live by Shake Shack in Manhattan which is completely full of delivery guys. I guarantee most people could walk the few blocks and pick it up.
René (Canada)
I look forward to the day slavery will be really abolished in the US
Chevy (South Hadley, MA)
Winter is coming. It's going to get even worse.
Matt Attack (Brooklyn, NY)
If they riding their electric bikes like maniacs and stayed off the sidewalks like they're supposed to then I would have some sympathy for them. No, I'm not joking.
Larry L (Dallas, TX)
Did someone put me in a time machine when I feel asleep? It looks like I woke up in 1890.
Ron Wilson (The Good Part of Illinois)
Undocumented worker=illegal alien. If someone who can't legally work in this country doesn't like their wages, may I suggest that they go somewhere that they can work legally. Like, how about their home country? You do realize that the supply of illegal alien labor helps to depress wages for legal, lawful American citizens, don't you? Or don't you believe in the law of supply and demand?
AJ (Westchester)
@Ron Wilson People are not illegal. Documented workers aren't banging down the doors to take these jobs. Even at minimum wage, an employee (or contractor-since they earn $0 benefits) cannot live in NYC. In New York City, the 2020 Fair Market Rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,714, and for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,951. This means that a renter needs to make $32.96 per hour to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment in New York City, or $37.52 per hour for a two-bedroom apartment – in either case, more than twice the $15 hourly minimum wage. The system is broken!
Zoë (New York, New York)
Please read “American Dirt.” It will help you to understand the extenuating circumstances that cause people to come to this country. It’s fiction, but the author heavily researched and interviewed immigrants. Also, try empathy.
Barbara (Queens)
@Ron Wilson You are of course not seriously asking why "they" don't return to their home country (where) "they can work legally", uh, are you? Sure they can (with luck) work legally there, but like most of us, they hope that by working they can then actually (horrors!) eat, put a roof over their heads, etc. All that good stuff. And whn I say "put a roof over their heads" i mean literally just about that and no more. The opportunism of employers who prefer not to pay a living wage to people here legally is another issue. Granted they are related. But don't blame 'el delivero' for the greed of the boss. (Yes, yes I know the restaurant owners are facing hard times - NOW - but that's just now and does not drive the long standing dynamics of the restaurant- delivery- consumer triad.)
Shmoo (Bklyn)
This came out on the same day Trump GOP wanted supreme court to not count these people towards the 2020 US census. Shame on Trump GOP.
arm19 (Paris/ny/cali/sea/miami/baltimore/lv)
I worked for uber, lyft, munchery, and doordash. I quit Uber and lyft after 6 years because I was tired of seeing my pay cut by an average of 10% a year. Munchery, I quit after being black balled by a 20 year old for daring to speak my mind on our working conditions. Doordash fired me because I told a restaurant that I wasn't being paid to pack the food for them and said restaurant called my overlords and complained. I wasn't allowed to defend myself just received an email. I could tell you how uber sent a text to all its' Seattle drivers asking them if they wanted to participate in a meeting to unionize, only to suspend the accounts of all the drivers that said yes. Or how I was told that I was being ungratefull for the opportunity that was provided to me. When I saw their victory in california, I was disgusted but not surprised that greed prevailed over being your brother's keeper. Pay cash tips, encourage unions, stop voting based on your greed, and start voting for what is best for all.
People are cheap. I mostly cook, but now and then I order food for delivery. I never tip less than 10 bucks and mostly tip 15 bucks and upwards on any order, that's cash in the delivery guy's hand. They work so hard. They probably have few options in this moment and they are very useful in the service they provide. I know progressive Bernie Sanders/AOC sup[porters who scream about how great socialism is, yet in their own lives they are miserly, cruel and practice elitism when it comes to tipping. Socialism if someone else is paying, greedy Capitalism when they have to pay. Big phonies. I'll take a world of the delivery guys over them any day.
Shmoo (Bklyn)
@MCS progressive AOC fanatic here. I always tip 25%, cash. I avoid seamless, DoorDash, grubhub and order either directly thru restaurant website or call. I also volunteer at a local church that is the local hub for undocumented workers. Way to generalize here, I take offense.
Guillermo (New York City)
@MCS progressive Sanders/AOC supporter. I pick up my food and don't do delivery. At outdoor restaurants I tip at least 20%, most of the time 25%. Don't accuse others of doing what you do yourself.
@MCS Um....where are you getting your facts about Sanders/AOC supporters who are cruel, miserly and elitist. Maybe you need to find other friends or more reliable information. Good for you for patting yourself on the back and giving a big tip; you are not the only one. I know many, may progressives who are working their butts off to help the less fortunate. Broaden your horizons or find new sources for accurate information.
Aristotle (SOCAL)
Our political economy creates the need to work, then provides poor wages, poor working conditions, a feeble social safety net, and no real political power. Made worse, delivery workers are little more than placeholders while tech companies perfect automation technology to replace them. Nineteenth century Dickens in 21st century America.
Eric (Back)
@Aristotle What does it mean that the "political economy creates the need to work?" We need to work because that's how we all produce. We all need to work so we all can eat. I agree with the rest of what you say, but we need to stop looking at work as a bad thing.
rie (south pole)
without food delivery workers -essential workers- these companies wouldn't be cashing their million $$$ businesses. Much More, many restaurants would not survive these times. if food delivery workers decide to stop and strike for fair wages and working conditions people at home wouldn't be getting any food delivered as well.. it is in everyones's best interest to implement better, fair working conditions for food delivery essential workers! for now tip them with cash! and tip them well!
Barbara (Queens)
@rie Agreed for the most part, with the exception of the part about the delivery workers deciding to go on strike for fair wages. Not an option! Totally agree with the extra cash -in-hand tip, and not just for now! That's the only tip you can be CERTAIN they will see.
Pepper (Manhattan)
I feel sorry for these delivery people & always make sure to generously tip them when order food delivery. However, something has to be done, particularly in Manhattan, about these guys riding their electric bikes at 20 MPH on the sidewalk. I see it happen every single day several times a day. I don’t understand how anyone can be that careless or stupid.
Diane (NYC)
@Pepper Possibly because there is intense pressure to deliver food as quickly as possible, and because one knows that if they don't pack in as many deliveries as possible, this might be a day when they only early $45.
Zoë (New York, New York)
I live on the Upper West Side and never see that-anywhere. This article isn’t about that, but the injustice and poor working conditions/pay of the drivers.
Brandon R. (Long Island, NY)
This is the exact reason why I choose to place food orders directly with the restaurant
xyz (nyc)
@Brandon R. they also pay their delivery people very little money
R.Skara (Finland)
Modern slavery.
Muhammad (Orlando, FL)
There’s absolutely no way a delivery driver for both Uber and DoorDash can make anywhere near $22! DD has a base pay of only $3. Uber has proven to be even more greedy since they reduced their base pay to $2.50 in September. However, unlike DD, Uber does also pay the driver more if a delivery has more miles and/or takes longer than expected. Regardless of the mileage and time, DD will only pay the minimum $3. As a previous driver, if a customer doesn’t tip, DD expects us to drive to the restaurant, pick up the food, and deliver it for only the minimum pay... The greed is unreal as both companies charge service and delivery fees to restaurants and customers.
Bill (NY)
Bottom line is that these apps are predatory. The amount added to the bill, coupled with the fee a restaurant pays, with the almost nothing the delivery person gets, insures I will never use them.
Eric (Back)
The solution HAS to be that if a customer tips in the app, the worker gets the full amount. The company already got its (hefty) cut from the original sale. One of the advantages of tipping being built into an app is that drivers aren't known to be carrying around wads of cash. That makes delivery people and drivers good targets for getting robbed. Cashless apps really do make it safer for drivers (and riders).
TK Sung (SF)
I'll have to add extra cash tip from now on whenever I use the delivery service. Thanks for the article.
Diane (NYC)
So many comments here focused on folks being "lazy" for not walking 4-5 blocks to pick up their food, while ignoring the real immorality here: the corporate greed that results in the abuse of workers. Big cities are an ecosystem, with jobs of various types necessary to keep people employed. If we eliminate food delivery, we eliminate jobs. Sure, I can walk 5 blocks to pick up my food order, OR I can help to employ someone by ordering. (I only use restaurant delivery services, btw--I don't use Uber or DoorDash because they are abusive to workers.) Sometimes I walk. Sometimes I spread the wealth and have food delivered. We need regulation of the gig economy in general. It's been a giant step backward for worker rights.
David (Seattle)
@Diane Abuse? They couldn't get any other job that paid better.
Carmine (Philly)
@David Putting aside your implication that delivery workers are substandard workers/people, even if all of them got better-paying jobs elsewhere, someone would need to deliver food and there would be people desperate for jobs. Clearly, the demand is there, and I assume you believe in all of that free-market stuff about meeting consumer demand. So the question here is whether we believe employers should be allowed to pay workers below minimum wage, all while not providing health insurance, disability/death insurance, or replacements for stolen and broken tools.
Diane (NYC)
@David So you think that it's fine to mistreat workers who because of circumstance can't find other jobs?
Doug (VT)
We should really abolish the culture of tipping and make sure that there are effective minimum wage laws in place to guaranteed a living wage. Some people, I understand, make very good money on tips, but they are a minority by far. Most folks are like the ones described in the article- barely squeaking by. Also, 13% unemployment. No help from Congress in a pandemic. People left to scrambling to pay rent, to buy food. Record stock market, tech moguls getting richer by the minute. Portrait of a sick society.
Richard (Arizona)
I'm confused? It remains illegal in the US to hire undocumented workers. If the rules were properly enforced, employers would have to pay up for legal workers, working conditions would improve, and this problem would dissipate. The underlying issue here is tolerating employers and firms that break the law. New York State seems quite willing to fine businesses for many things, especially during the pandemic. NY should actually enforce our existing laws on employment and New York Times writers should start focusing on true underlying issue here, instead of attempting to illicit support for those engaged in illegal activities. This situation is ultimately attributable to NY being a sanctuary city.
Diane (NYC)
Really? Tell me, are Uber Eats etc salaries for and treatment of its delivery people better in other cities? You need some hard data to support your assertion.
Billy P (Hillsdale ny)
@Richard Its business that is attributable. These companies offer no benefits, lousy pay, and no medical. who else would work under those conditions? A business plan should be based on the ability to pay a living wage. Then the people delivering the food, could even order delivery for themselves. Henry Ford paid his employees enough to actually purchase a car. Which was key to his making money.
Ferg (New York City)
"If the rules were properly enforced, employers would have to pay up for legal workers, working conditions would improve, and this problem would dissipate" This is quite unlikely, I think, unless we want to pay twice as much for the food and or the delivery. While these corporations -non existent a decade ago- most likely could hire "legal workers," their profits would tumble, partly because we consumers are unwilling, or cannot afford, to pay for "legal" labor. If I must use a delivery app, for the occasional take out dinner, I hand the delivery person (fellow immigrant, likely) a generous cash tip upon delivery. That seems like a fair transaction to me, and the only way I can enjoy my meal.
Adam Wright (Petaluma, CA)
DoorDash will go public this week at a $32 billion valuation, something made entirely possible through the pandemic. None of this wealth will trickle down to the works pushing themselves for minimum wage, and no health insurance will cover workers if they get sick. The investors and executives at the top will be heralded as brilliant innovators. Guess the shoe fits if you consider exploitation of workers during a pandemic to be brilliant innovation. Personally, these companies to me exemplify one of the truly abhorrent aspects of this year; the splitting of those who are able to comfortably work from home from those that are forced to be outside working amongst the virus, oftentimes for an unlivable wage.
Alton (The Bronx)
@Adam Wright If you are earning minimum wage or less, then you are a serf. You cannot afford to have a healthy family, or pay for health insurance, or have a savings ( or a union ) that could allow you to strike for a better wage and better conditions. You are a serf.
Tobi Elkin (New York City)
The way food delivery workers are treated is a travesty - forced to carry plastic bottles in lieu of being able to use a restroom, receiving sub-standard wages, poor or no tips, employers' lack of regard for travel distances between deliveries, etc. These conditions are just another symptom of the fact that late capitalism in the U.S. is irretrievably broken.
Arjun (India)
It is known that companies do whatever they do to increase their revenue and not care even a bit about their hard-working workforce. So we people must do the right thing by tipping them directly instead of believing that the company or the restaurant will pay them anyway. We have to be generous and in the right way in these times of pandemic.
Jana (NY)
Both the consumer and the vendor/manufacturer lose, when a middleman enters the picture(Amazon, Uber, Door Dash, Lyft etc). It is simple arithmetic. The middleman/company has to make a profit and shareholders demand dividends.
Jean Sims (The Midwest)
These delivery app companies gouge the restaurants and don’t pay the drivers fairly. How is that a decent (or even legal) business model? The public actually does have control over this. Don’t use them. Pick up curbside or at the door of your local restaurants. When they go public, app programmers will make a killing but investors will get burned because these companies are going to crash. What they are doing is not sustainable.
Max (NYC)
Any delivery app that withholds driver tips should be shut down and made to pay punitive damages. That said, what are these workers thinking? Coming in illegally means you're limited to gig work or some off-the-books kitchen job, and no safety net. So, considering the cost of living in NYC compared to say, Ecuador, what is the point?
Lisa Hey (Winchester,CT.)
As a massage therapist working independently, a large part of my income relies on tips. ICs/gig workers/PTimers have worked for that little extra money. It is crimInal to withhold those funds, regardless of the many validations perpetrated by businesses. The "filler w/o bennies" nature of part-time/gig work by the desperate is not a valid excuse for stealing tips and the practice of starving one's workforce will just come back to bite one"in the end"..
Leela (FL)
These kids are computer literate, call the restaurant directly, that's what we do. So once again doesn't matter, greed vs a living wage....doesnt' matter what service they aren't paying a living wage. We need government involvement. Also Healthcare for All!
Jim (Jersey City, NJ)
Slavery still exists, but it a very different form -- from the underpaid workers who assemble our electronics to the underpaid workers who deliver our food. This article just sickens me because of the shameless exploitation/slavery that these workers must endure while the companies they work for rake in millions if not billions. And shame on anyone who utilizes these services and do not highly tip the person who is making the delivery.
MOL (New York)
This article makes me sick to my stomach. I never use these apps. If you can't cook your own food, go pick it up yourself. And look who are making the deliveries, undocumented men and women trying their best to survive. No government largesse for them.
Todd (Frisco)
This is just like Amazon, and Facebook: if we want to get rid of massive companies that exploit their workers destroy the environment and, in Facebook's case, are actively undermine the fabric of our society, we as consumers have to make the right choice. Delete Facebook and Twitter right now. This Christmas, vow to buy everything you can from a place other than Amazon. Stop ordering wildly expensive delivery service food and pick it up yourself. We're never going to change these money grubbing companies, we absolutely must change ourselves.
Bettyishere (The Boundry Waters)
Always tip in cash.
Richard Lawrence (LA/OC/IE)
Actually no. If anything pay half the tip in the app and the remainder in cash. If your tip is $0 veteran drivers are more likely to pass on you, because on the surface, your delivery request doesn’t seem worth their time (though I am a veteran, I don’t adhere to this practice, I believe in quantity over quality and that things always balance out).
Mike (Illinois)
Look at the combined market capitalization of Uber and soon to be public Doordash and tell me where the spoils are going, certainly it to the restauranteurs or the employees. Doesn’t seem fair or sustainable to me.
Robert Appel (New York,NY)
Most who read this article will be Times readers AND food delivery customers. Please tip these delivery people in cash so they can get all of what they earn. Trusting the companies to distribute gratuities enables them to keep part of something which is not theirs.
Bob (Montréal)
It is just unfair to count on the tip, especially at a time when a lot of people are struggling. The salary (or whatever they call that for so-called independent workers) should be high enough - add a mandatory service fee if necessary - and the tip should just be a little extra you are happy to get sometimes...
Matthew (Denver)
Depends on the city. In the downtown Denver area I make between $15-30 an hour. Sundays are the best days when you have peak pay that averages $25 an hour. But my friend in Miami would make less than $13 an hour regardless of the day. It depends on how many drivers you are competing with. Denver doesn't have as many immigrants as Miami or New York City so the competition isn't the same. We also don't have as many restaurants as New York so we don't have as many people out of work. So while the delivery driver competition has increased in Denver, it isn't as bad as other larger cities. Creating a one size fits all solution like a Union won't work. The conditions in some places are not the same as the conditions in others.
Christian Jimenez (Lemoore, California)
Never let a good crisis go to waste! I voted against Prop 22 out here in California to hold these companies accountable to provide a living wage and health care benefits to its employees. Yes, I said it...employees. Without humans to drive for Uber and Lyft and Grubhub, etc., these “tech” companies would not have a business model nor a business for that matter. Prop 22 was approved and the gig economy remains the Wild West of independent contractors scrapping by with little recourse or alternative employment options. Stories like these are the norm. I’ve never read an article about an Uber driver living his/her best life in the Hollywood Hills.
JOSE Franco (Brooklyn)
Delivery workers in NYC (many undocumented) have an intuitive model of cooperative behavior that stems from two linked fears, one of basic survival & another of under producing for lack of opportunities. In 2018, Trump forced the government to shutdown insisting we build a wall on the Mexico - US boarder. The support for the wall is another example of the tragedy of the commons whereas the demand for undocumented workers in certain industries in the U.S. creates incentive for others to cross the boarder which has led to the increase in illegal residents in the United States. On the supply side, many Americans don’t know what to study in college, because no one knows what skills learned today will be relevant in 10 to 15 yrs. As the # of these somewhat unskilled citizens increases, not through chance but by definition diminishing incentives for this group to invest in developing additional skills in higher demand or outperforming undocumented workers in low skill work. Put another way, the fastest way Americans can build the wall is by outperforming undocumented workers in low skill industries. This will discourage others looking for work from crossing the Mexican border. Past Democratic or Republican administration’s inability to address this is partly to blame for the immigration mess we have today. One doesn’t usually have proper insight into ones own emotional makeup. Most of us spend our time trying to rationalize our behavior as a result of our lack of self awareness.
New Day Coming (USA)
The people that work for these apps need a union. Period.
VillagePerson (CA)
I had planned to vote against Prop 22 in the last election but was torn when a neighbor who works for Instacart said if it passed she wouldn't be able to survive.
KC (Bridgeport)
NYC needs to tax food deliveries more heavily and allow delivery people to file for earned income credits on their tax returns. The companies cannot be relied upon to pay living wages.
David F (NYC)
Ah the "gig economy". Serfs caught in a debt economy lorded over by tech billionaires and their investors. We await with bated breath the destruction of the Fed and the rise of non-fiat cryptocurrency to complete the historic circle back to the new Dark Ages. Humans are boringly predictable when one thinks beyond the temporal confines of their own insignificant lives.
Lawrence Sherman (Cliffside Park NJ)
How can it be that DoorDash is about to go public at a valuation of $32 billion? Is anybody really looking at their business model? There is no new value unlocked through ingenuity. This is pure exploitation.
Pat (Somewhere)
It's the right-wing dream come true: workers with no options, no benefits or job security, paying all their own expenses and working for peanuts.
Howard G (New York)
@Pat Yes -- and when any of those workers dare to complain about their horrendous working conditions - those right-wingers reply - with a smug smile on their faces -- "Well, if you don't like your job - yu canalways quit and find another job you like better" -- Of course - there is an answer to this problem - Unionize ...
Todd (Frisco)
@Pat If they had their way, every red state job would be a gig job. Under-educate them, under-pay them, deprive them of basic human needs like health insurance and a livable environment . . . then bomb them with sophisticated fear-based propaganda and reap the rewards, 72 million strong!
Zephyr (NYC)
We need to ORGANIZE against our Tech Overlords.
Todd (Frisco)
@Zephyr No, actually we don't. If you, me and everyone else who reads this article deleted Facebook, deleted uber eats, and stopped using Amazon, it would make a difference. WE have to change, we'll never get these companies to change.
Dana (Tucson)
If you want to keep your weight down and also want less plastic going into the ocean, shop safely and then learn to cook at home. You can put on some music; it's not like cooking at home is like digging a 400km trench by hand. That said, if you do order for delivery, for god's sake, tip well (preferably in cash) and if they need to use a bathroom, let them use your bathroom. Please: Have some humanity, people.
Wendy (new york)
Thank you for such an important story. Such a sad portrait of how workers can be exploited. For one thing, I didn’t know that the tip I gave wasn’t even going to the delivery person. What a scam. This needs to be corrected immediately.
JW (California)
@Wendy I always tip in cash to delivery people, (and anyone else who relies on tips to make a living). Its the only way to guarantee the tip goes the right person.
Wendy (new york)
@JW Thank you and I agree cash would be best. Unfortunately for many delivery services in NYC we never directly interact with the delivery person. He/she drops off the delivery in the building’s garage or lobby and leaves immediately for the next drop-off.
Socrates (Verona, N.J.)
Technology vulture capitalists have decided to make slave labor great again....and most of us are going along with for the sake of 'convenient' food delivery....'convenient' Ubers and 'convenient' everything. A permanent underclass of slave labor is convenient mostly to modern Robber Barons who refuse to pay a living wage to their 'contracted' employees. Socialize the costs; privatize the profits. America's right-wing Randian society enjoys another day at its gilded castles while real workers slave through the day doing hard work. Shameful. Inhumane. ... and very American.
Todd (Frisco)
@Socrates When cars were first invented, everyone became a taxi driver, and like any unregulated race to the bottom, things quickly got messy, and so regulations were imposed, and cab companies took over that space. Uber effectively killed the cab companies, and so now we're racing to the bottom again. Gig jobs are that race to the bottom writ large.
Consuelo (Texas)
Again we see that a tipping culture is an unreliable way to reward work. I did not even think about the " tipping fatigue " that another comment highlighted. As this all drags on people are going to start thinking about their budget for tips and behave accordingly. Do, absolutely tip in cash. This means going to the bank and planning. I have always done this during the holidays as the Salvation Army is on every corner and I feel an obligation. It is more than disgusting that these companies are continuing to steal tips. And that the restaurants who rely upon these workers will not allow them to use the restroom is something to contemplate. Get a Port a Potty and situate it by the dumpster if you can't bring yourself to let them in. They are an outdoor option . Have several restaurants chip in. Let the drivers and delivery people know where on the block they can find it. Show some humanity.
Wolf (Tampa, FL)
This is a problem with illegal immigrants in the labor market. If the food delivery companies could not take advantage of these illegal immigrants' vulnerability, they would have to pay more livable wages. I'm not a Fortress America person. I'd like to see a great increase in the number of people granted legal immigrant visas. If we do that, there won't be as many stories like this. But I'm also not naive about Congress. Nothing happens in part because big companies like this want nothing to happen, so they can keep their cheap workforce. All of that said -- if these workers don't like the conditions as they are, they can stop breaking the law and go home.
Matthew (Denver)
@Wolf you are correct. I drive for DoorDash in Denver part-time. I have friends who drive in Miami and New York. I make way more in Denver than they do in New York and Miami. When they are picking up orders in New York and Miami they are surrounded by other drivers who are not able to speak English. With the load of immigrants out of work in those cities the labor supply is unbalanced. We don't have that issue exasperating delivery drivers here in Denver. I have nothing against immigrants, but having a large labor force of immigrants has its economic consequences when times are tough.
Todd (Frisco)
@Wolf In your mind all gig workers are illegal immigrants? No they aren't, the vast majority are Americans who are being used and abused by these corrupt practices. Interesting how you injected your prejudice into this story about Americans being hurt, huh?
j (here)
@Wolf agree with most of your comment but the last line is super naive contemplate what it means for someone to come here undocumented - imagine how bad it must be where they are this is a better option - that should make us think about how bad it is where they are
TobyFinn (The Flatiron)
Uber, DoorDash etc should be ashamed of themselves but this is the Gig economy the executives make the big bucks the workers struggle. NYC’s Progressive Mayor and City Council haven’t done much to help these workers earn a descent wage but they did allow eBikes. Unfortunately, most of the folks observe don’t observe traffic regulation, one way streets and often ride on sidewalks. Very few of these delivery folks follow Covid 19 protocols and I never observed hand sanitizer being used. I wonder how sanitary those backpacks are and are they every cleaned. For me, I walk for all my needs.
Tom Clemmons (Oregon)
It appears that the Upton Sinclair novel "The Jungle" needs to be revisited and made required reading in schools. "Catcher In The Rye" can then be phased out for something more relevant to today's realities for so many.
Kurt Pickard (Murfreesboro, TN)
Freelance work is just another name for part-time which traditionally has never included benefits. Freelancing has never been considered anything more than fill in, temporary or short term gig. It fills a need for employer and the worker. It's never been implied that one could make a living wage doing this type of work on an ongoing basis. It's unfortunate that so many of NYC food delivery workers are illegal and have no access to government assistance but they're trying to reimagine a job into something which it was never meant to be. You'll never circumvent the law of supply and demand.
Russ (Calgary)
@Kurt Pickard Why not, industry in particular Big Oil circumvent the laws of supply and demand every day?
Nico Anderson (Richmond)
@Kurt Pickard " It's never been implied that one could make a living wage doing this type of work on an ongoing basis." If you have employees, you must pay them a living wage. Its not a complicated concept. You shouldn't be able to just call any work "freelance" in order to skirt benefits and humane labor law and exploit workers.
@Kurt Pickard Well, then DoorDash, Uber, etc. should make these jobs that bring CEOs and shareholders billions of dollars into fulltime positions with benefits. The reason these jobs that employ millions of people are "freelance" is because these companies' only concerned is maximizing the bottom line. And, re the law of supply and demand: did you read the numbers in this article? The use of food delivery services has sky-rocketed during the pandemic. Oh, but maybe you're talking about the fact that so many people are out of work because of the pandemic and demand for jobs has also sky-rocketed, therefore, DoorDash etc. should take advantage of these folks and make a few more billion so that you and I, in the security of our work from home gig, can have fancy, already cooked meals, delivered to us. And, by the way, we're "tip" fatigued.
Darko Begonia (New York City)
Gosh, if every closeted, convenience-deprived New Yorker deigned to put on their masks (and or gloves) and walked to a market or supermarket to purchase their food like many of us have been doing for decades prior to the advent of the iPhone, they might discover that its far better and healthier to walk and select their own food.
JoJo Dancer (Las Vegas, NV)
@Darko Begonia That's an excellent point. Not to mention that it's cheaper. But here's the thing: not everyone knows how to cook. *None* of the 20-somethings in my building know the first thing about cooking, except how to use the microwave.
R (New York City)
@JoJo Dancer It's a shame because one kind find any recipe, or even watch an instructional cooking video, on their phones.
Melissa (Brooklyn, NY)
@JoJo Dancer talk about oversimplifying it. People order delivery for a whole host of reasons - a particular dish with hard to find or expensive ingredients? Wanting a slice of cake but not a whole cake? Working 10+ hours and not having the time to cook? Signed, 30-something home cook who orders delivery a few times each month.
Joe (Brooklyn)
They should not be working at all. They are in the US illegally. They are not paying taxes and are draining social services. They are taking jobs away from US citizens. There is high unemployment in the US right now. I am not a Trump fan. I am a fan of enforcing the law.
Tamara (Cincinnati)
@Joe Actually, all of these workers do pay taxes and receive very little in return because of their undocumented status. Furthermore, these workers continually work jobs Americans have little to no interest in doing. Just ask a meat rendering plant how many Americans they have on their payroll despite paying $25-$27 an hour.
Rob in Brooklyn (Brooklyn)
@Joe. How do you know they are here illegally?
Marie (Brooklyn)
They often do pay taxes.
STP (Ohio)
This is indicative of the transactional character of modern capitalism. For highly credentialed "knowledge workers," things can work out well in a transnational economy. For most workers, who would fare far better as regular employees with pensions, healthcare etc., it's back to the early days of industrialization when men were poorly paid (and very disposable ) cogs in the machine of giant corporations.
Scott Salbo (NYC)
As troubling as this situation is; and I believe it is troubling; most workers according to independent research prefer to remain gig workers, and the recent referendum on this very issue in California seems to suggest the public agrees. I don’t know what the solution is, but it will not be decided by Social Media Warriors.
Kristi (Minneapolis)
If California’s prop 22 is any indication, it will be decided by deep pocket venture capitalists willing to spend whatever it takes to keep workers hanging by a thread.
WK (Ithaca)
I wonder how this era of disposable, non-employee workers enriching the owners of the middleman websites will look in the history books? We should be ashamed at how little we value human life in a society with such incredible total wealth. The Rev. Martin Luther King went to Memphis to fight for economic justice for the sanitation workers. Will anyone do that now for the gig workers? Is our democracy so broken that the leaders of both major parties are beholden to the wealthy to fund their campaigns such that nothing will ever change no mater which party is in power?
Pessimist (Chicago, IL)
Here's another reminder to tip your service personnel in cash. Keep smaller bills around to do it, or ask for change on the tip if you forget. The apps make it convenient to "tip", but there's nothing like the certainty you get from using cash. Some people are concerned about COVID transmission when using cash, but I will point out that (a) contact transmission is thought to be much less common than aerosol transmission and (b) since you are *already* exchanging the food, the incremental risk from the cash contact is not so large.
Vin (Nyc)
It's downright depressing to consider that much of the public will gladly worsen the conditions of an entire class of workers in exchange for a convenience that they lived perfectly without five or ten years ago.
@Vin Given that we're in the midst of a pandemic, I'm not sure that getting food (and other household items) delivered instead of shopping in person is merely "a convenience that they lived perfectly without five or ten years ago." Five or ten years ago (or even a year ago), in person interactions didn't create a sizeable risk of catching a deadly virus. We should absolutely work to improve conditions for delivery workers - absolutely - as we all owe them an enormous debt of gratitude these days, but your comment, which somehow overlooks how having goods delivered might be more important today than pre-pandemic, is just silly.
Andy (Santa Cruz Mountains, CA)
@Vin Would it improve their working conditions if we stopped using delivery? Best we can do is tip well.
Bob (Montréal)
@AF No, taking your car/bike/feet and go to a restaurant to pick-up an order with a good surgical mask (which cost like 0.10$ or less those days) is a very low risk activity. It is just not how a huge majority of people are contaminated.
Eric (New York)
For my money we should be cooking during this pandemic rather than having someone bring individual meals in plastic containers for starvation wages. The food would be more expensive if the workers were paid a fair living wage and more people would learn to cook healthier (and tastier) options at home for less money.
@Eric Yet we still have to get the ingredients, don't we? And for those of us who are high risk, grocery shopping in person regularly isn't necessarily a great option, especially as cases rise (not to mention, going to the convenience store, the pharmacy...any of the places we might need to get essential items). The reality is that people are going to rely more on delivery - of all types of goods - these days. So, the question is, how can we work to make the system safer and more lucrative for drivers? Your personal opinion that your cooking is "tastier" than delivery doesn't really advance the ball.
Bronwyn (NYC)
The terrible pay is surely incentive for so many guys on electric bikes driving like absolute maniacs, completely ignorant of road rules and safety precautions. I can't count how many times a silent e-bike has raced up on me and nearly hit me while walking on the sidewalk, not to mention the constant incidents of riding irresponsibly and aggressively through pedestrian crossings and overtaking riders in bike lanes. Try finding a place to lock your bike that isn't already taken up by numerous delivery bikes as well. I'm trying to be sympathetic but the numerous close calls I and so many others have had make it difficult.
Svein (Manhattan, NY)
@Bronwyn Very true. It is another effect of all the deliveries. A friend was hit by an electric bike on a side walk on the Upper East Side, and at a speed that easily could have been fatal. I now always have to look twice before crossing a street even on green light. Most delivery bikes don't even slow down while crossing an intersection on red. And it seems like more than half of them don't even have any lights on their bikes, and it is hard to see them in the dark. Having lights on your bike should be a minimum requirement before being allowed to deliver for any app. I hope the city will start setting sensible standards and enforce them.
local (NYC)
@Svein True. Sorry about your friend. Despite me looking out and being careful every day, an e-bike speeding around the corner on the sidewalk hit me and my dog. I was just bruised up, but my (large) dog was severely injured and after tens of thousands in vet bills, is crippled for life. The delivery guy sped off and left us bleeding on the ground. I fear what would happen if a child got hit. I will not have sympathy for these delivery guys until they get off the sidewalks.
local (NYC)
@local And I'm not some rich person who could afford that. Even with pet insurance, I'm still in debt paying off those bills.
ConA (Philly,PA)
The UberEats driver I know works 8 hours a day and makes maybe $12 on average/hr. The UberEats app sends her all over the place, not concentrated in any area. She can have 1 job near her home then end up 20 miles away. People tipped better at the beginning of the pandemic, but now they don't, so for that 20 mile drive she might get tipped $5. UberEats doesn't restrict the number of drivers so now that the pandemic is bad, everyone is driving. There is no seniority. A pretty crummy way to treat your workers. People need to tip more, too.
Craig (Cabo San Lucas)
They won in California due to very effective tv and app advertising, I’d argue that dropping 125M USD compared to zero by the other side, will win when so few consumers read the ballot book the state sends covering the for and against each issue. It’s that simple.
Earthbound (San Francisco)
@Craig The gig companies spent North of 180 million to override a duly adopted piece of legislation.
Nank (Los Angeles)
@Craig Agreed. I was appalled to see constant ads of smiling Uber and Lyft drivers saying they would suffer if they had benefits, paid for by the companies, with no tv response from the actual gig workers who didn’t have the money to put on counter-ads of their own. It was a sickening thing to watch.
See also