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Press Release

April 12, 2021

DELIVERING JUSTICE FOR DELIVERISTAS:

Council Candidate Amit S. Bagga Releases “Delivery Justice Now!” Proposal To Rein In Big Tech Exploitation Of Thousands Of Essential Workers And To Protect Consumers And Restaurants

Developed with deliveristas, advocates, and restaurants leading the way and endorsed by several candidates from across all five boroughs, Bagga’s proposal creatively leverages the City’s business licensing authority to establish first-of-their kind protections for 80,000 deliveristas, as well as protections for restaurants and transparency for consumers. 

SUNNYSIDE, NY -- Amit Singh Bagga, candidate for New York City Council in District 26, today introduced the Delivery Justice Now! (DJN) proposal, a first-of-its-kind municipal regulation and licensing scheme to protect food delivery workers (deliveristas), consumers, and restaurants from the predatory and exploitative practices of the billion-dollar, Big Tech food app delivery industry. 

According to the Workers Justice Project, approximately 80,000 deliveristas, the large majority of whom are Black, Brown, Asian, and immigrants, take to New York City’s streets every day to ensure that New Yorkers are fed. Despite being some of the most essential of workers in the middle of the pandemic, deliveristas face significant challenges, including, but not limited to: 

  • Low wages 
  • Non-payment for work done
  • Severely delayed payments
  • Arbitrary suspensions & termination
  • No compensation in cases of injury, bike loss, or death
  • No paid sick leave
  • No live, in-language help in the field
  • No bathroom access
  • Huge e-bike purchasing & maintenance costs

 

“I have had the privilege of working directly with freelancers, as well as car wash, laundry, and fast food workers to create essential labor protections at the local level that we had previously been told weren’t possible. During the pandemic, from every al pastor to every pizza delivered, the Big Tech food delivery industry has made billions off of consumers and restaurants, all while deeply exploiting deliveristas, and it’s now time for us to rein these companies in and have our policy reflect our values. The Delivery Justice Now! proposal has been developed with deliveristas, the Workers Justice Project, labor advocates, restaurants, and consumers leading the way, because in a just New York City, those most failed by policy must be at the heart of making it,” said Amit Singh Bagga, Candidate, City Council District 26

The DJN proposal provides a framework for legislation that would require food app delivery companies (i.e. UberEats, Doordash/Caviar, Postmates, Relay, GrubHub/Seamless, etc.) to comply with a long list of stipulations in order to obtain and maintain a license from the City’s Department of Consumer & Worker Protection (DCWP), which has the authority to regulate businesses that operate in New York City. Collectively, the stipulations proposed by the proposal would aggressively expand worker protections, require common-sense protections for consumers and restaurants, and would directly address one of the most predatory aspects of the industry’s business model: the lack of transparency around fees, wages, and restaurant payments. 

 

The Delivery Justice Now! Proposal (full text at end of release) would require all app delivery companies to:

 

  1.   Provide full and fair payment for all work done
  2.   Provide complete itemized, per-transaction transparency for all stakeholders
  3.   Provide key worker protections
  • protections against arbitrary termination; in-language field assistance, bathroom access; the provision of Paid Sick Leave via the passage of Council Member Brad Lander’s bill to expand coverage to gig workers; and more)
  1.   Establish a fund (via a bond) for compensation in cases of injury or death
  2.   Provide or service all essential tools (bikes, bags, phones) 
  3.   Ban sale of consumer data to third parties and ban “scraping”
  4.   Keep and produce itemized records of all transactions

 

The DJN proposal also calls for:

 

  1.   Establishing a “Delivery Advocacy Board” to monitor and advise on ongoing worker, consumer, and restaurant issues 
  2.   Publicly funding delivery worker organizing and skills training via Bagga’s previously-announced “Fair Economy Fund”
  3. Expanding protected bike lanes to a minimum 450-mile network 

“It's very hard for deliveristas,” said Gustavo Ajche, a member of the delivery workers organizing collective Los Deliveristas Unidos, representing some of New York City’s 80,000 delivery workers. “Every day, we face difficulties getting paid by the apps, stolen bicycles, and traffic crashes. We need more politicians to listen to our voices and join us in our movement. We need the City to legislate a plan exactly like what Amit is proposing.”

The ballooning of the food delivery app industry is an example of the “Amazonification” of New York City’s economy: large well-funded companies enter a market and create instant, on-demand consumer choice in ways it didn’t previously exist (two-day delivery via Amazon Prime being the parallel example). 

“A just New York City is a city where all immigrants and workers have access to opportunity, dignity, and power — and Amit’s proposal to fight billion-dollar corporations to protect workers is exactly what we need to build that city, said Julissa Bisono, Associate Director of Organizing, Make the Road New York Action. “This is the type of worker-centered, creative, and boldly progressive leadership we need in the Council — and this is why we need Amit to be the next City Council Member from District 26.”

This might feel like a boon to consumers, but in reality, the creation of this market at a scale that allows companies to reap the billions they seek requires the exploitation of low-wage workers (Amazon warehouse and delivery drivers being parallel examples), as well as deception of consumers and restaurants. With transaction fees ranging from $2 to even $15 per order, consumers pay a hefty price for their food without any information on what these fees are covering, as no such disclosure is currently required.

“Third party delivery apps are simultaneously predatory and parasitic,” said Michael Fuquay, Co-Owner of The Queensboro in Jackson Heights. “They use a legal subterfuge to avoid responsibility for the most basic protections for delivery workers. They engage in a variety of shady practices that make it ever more difficult for independent restaurants to survive in NYC and beyond.”

The policy not only seeks to bring protections to workers and break new legal ground, but aims for a more ethical, sustainable, and kind City. 

“If policy is a love language, this plan is the love letter that our city must deliver immediately to its delivery workers,” said Bright Limm, co-chair Working Families Party NYC Regional Advisory Council. “A policy as good as the Delivery Justice Now Proposal could have been written only by someone who both cares deeply about and truly understands the plight of NYC’s deliveristas.”

“The Freelancers Union is proud to support this common-sense and innovative proposal to ensure that our city’s deliveristas, who are currently classified as gig workers, have access to basic and important worker protections,” said Rafael Espinal, executive director, Freelancers Union. “While this will certainly evolve through the legislative process, the proposal creatively leverages the City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act and business licensing authority, and is an example of the type of thinking we need to regulate the app-based delivery industry, which is powered by among the most vulnerable gig workers in our city.”

Despite the City Council’s capping of per-order fees at 15% for restaurants last year, app delivery companies have reportedly been assessing many other types of fees not based on transactions—initiation fees, marketing fees, and others, that essentially enable companies to skirt existing law and gouge struggling restaurants anyway. In addition, companies are routinely reported as engaging in a practice known as “scraping,” where they scour the web for posted menus and add  restaurants to platforms even when restaurants might not want to.

Though the City of New York is preempted by various state and federal laws from directly regulating many aspects of  labor, the Council has the authority to require businesses that operate in NYC to obtain a license from the Department of Consumer & Worker Protection (DCWP), and the Council can leverage this authority to regulate business practices that can have adverse impacts on consumers and workers. 

 

The policy not only seeks to bring protections to workers and break new legal ground, but aims for a more ethical, sustainable, and kind City. 

A diverse group of progressive candidates for local office across the five boroughs have endorsed the plan.

“Deliversitas have wrongfully lost everything during the pandemic,” said Juan Ardila, candidate for New York City Council, District 30 in Queens. “I stand in full solidarity with them and will push for comprehensive worker protections. Deliveristas and working class people deserve to have the tools and resources needed to ensure they are being set up for success.”

“No workers in 2021 should fear being exploited,” said Amoy Barnes, candidate for New York City Council, District 49 in Staten Island. “This proposal begins to ensure that we broaden the net of workers that are protected by fair wages and compensated in the event of injury on the job." 

"The nation’s economy has changed, and the gig worker is a full time employee, serving our shared city,” said Chi Ossé, candidate for New York City Council, District 36 in Brooklyn. “The Delivery Justice Now Proposal would be essential legislation to guarantee countless non-traditional workers the protection, dignity, and justice we expect for all contributors to New York's economy. I am proud to support gig workers, and each and every other community member who strengthens our home."

“Delivery apps and companies like Amazon, Instacart, DoorDash and Uber Eats made over $400 billion in profits during the pandemic, all the while delivery workers were struggling to survive,” said Rodrigo Camarena, candidate for New York City Council, District 38 in Brooklyn. “It’s time to reign in these companies and require them to cover bike theft protection, provide worker pay transparency, reimburse drivers for operating expenses, and more. As a New York City Council Member, I will take on unjust and exploitative business practices and fight to stop the Amazonification of New York City.”

"I stand with Amit Bagga in demanding City government protect and support the essential workers and small businesses who fed New Yorkers and kept us alive during the COVID-19 pandemic," stated John Choe, Executive Director of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce and candidate for City Council in District 20. "The Delivery Justice Now proposal is an important step toward reining in the abuses of an industry that has long exploited a vulnerable workforce and restaurant industry desperate to stay afloat. This legislation, along with Amit's proposed $100 million Fair Economy Fund to support worker cooperatives and call to build a 450-mile network of protected bike lanes, would significantly improve the safety and well-being of many New Yorkers, including those of my constituents in Flushing, Queens."

“I join Amit in delivering justice to our City’s 80,000 deliveristas,” said Shahana Hanif, candidate for New York City Council, District 39 in Brooklyn. “We must immediately address the unsafe working conditions these essential workers face, and provide a livable wage (this includes reclassifying them as employees), access to public restrooms, and basic protections that care for these workers over big tech companies. In Brooklyn I have been working in partnership with the Workers Justice Project, which has been on the frontline organizing delivery workers, demanding that the apps pay workers a just salary and cover the costs of a bike and health and safety equipment. Organizing is critical, and the work Ligia Guallpa and her team are doing must be proactively supported by the City Council. We must also protect our essential working cyclists by pushing for capital investments in protected bike lanes that make plans like the 2019 streets safety master plan and the Five Borough Bikeway Vision a reality for New York City.”

“Immigrants are some of the most exploited workers in this city, said Hailie Kim, also a candidate for New York City Council, District 26 in Queens. Passing the Delivery Justice Now! Proposal would be a major first step towards implementing regulations that protect the people who make and deliver our food.  Asian Americans, too, are a part of this group. Such protections will also help protect vulnerable members of the AAPI community. It is important to make sure we ensure these protections for our hardest working yet most marginalized neighbors.  We need a City Council and government that understands the urgency in protecting our delivery workers, so I am proud to stand with Amit in supporting this proposal. We should be working towards the unionization of such jobs by supporting groups such as Los Deliveristas, but this is a necessary first step.” 

“Our deliveristas are the essential workers of our pandemic and long before,” said Shekar Krishnan, candidate for New York City Council, District 25 in Queens. Yet they have been mistreated, exploited, and grossly underpaid by food delivery app companies. This proposal by Amit Bagga, based on the dedicated organizing efforts of the Workers Justice Project and deliveristas, addresses such glaring injustices in fundamental ways and provides badly needed worker protections.”

“The pandemic has changed retail business in this city but it has not changed the moral imperative that all workers, whether in a store or delivering food through an app, have the right to be treated fairly, with dignity, and with access to a living wage,” said Stacy Lynch, candidate for New York City Council, District 7 in Manhattan. “As we rebuild our city, we cannot leave anyone behind, and that especially applies to app-based workers who are being exploited by their employers’ shirking of responsibilities that brick and mortar establishments face. Now is the time for the city to use its regulatory authority to ensure these workers, and all workers, have the opportunity to achieve the economic justice we all deserve.”

“It is well overdue for app-based delivery services to be held accountable for their workers and the communities they serve,” said Harold Miller, candidate for New York City Council, District 27 in Queens. “I applaud this set of policy proposals to protect workers, create more accountability for these large corporations to follow the employment laws here in New York.”

“Throughout this pandemic, hard working deliveristas have literally helped feed New York City,” said Jeffrey Omura, candidate for New York City Council, District 6 in Manhattan. “They are essential workers, and it’s long past time that they be afforded the rights, protections, and dignity that they deserve. As a worker, as a labor leader, as a candidate for City Council, and most importantly as a New Yorker, I’m incredibly proud to lend my support to the Delivery Justice Now proposal.”

“In order to earn a living during the pandemic, deliveristas had to risk their lives to bring us our basic needs like food,” said Felicia Singh, candidate for New York City Council, District 32 in Queens. "But even before the pandemic, we did not give them their basic needs through policy. This plan ensures that the basic rights and needs of our working-class, immigrant communities are protected and their work is respected."

“"Gig workers like those employed by food delivery apps have been saviors during the pandemic, when many have been confined to their homes,” said Marjorie Velazquez, candidate for New York City Council, District 13 in the Bronx. “But they are not adequately protected by the corporations who rely on their labor and time. It's essential that we protect these workers who have done so much for many of us, and that as a City we stand united at protecting all New Yorkers, not just the wealthy few. We need to ensure that all stakeholders are brought to the table to discuss an adequate solution to this issue that doesn't raise prices for our everyone in the city. I would like to applaud my fellow City Council Candidate Amit Bagga for his initiative in addressing this rising concern and I look forward to working with all stakeholders to develop a comprehensive plan." 

 

Additional City Council candidate endorsers include:

 

Marti Allen-Cummings, District 7 in Manhattan

Erik Bottcher, District 3 in Manhattan

Ingrid Gomez, District 21 in Queens

Crystal Hudson, District 35 in Brooklyn

Jaslin Kaur, District 23 in Queens

Julie Menin, District 5 in Manhattan

Delivery Justice Now! Summary - Amit for Council, April 2021

App-based delivery services have become a major source of injustice and indignity for 80,000 Black, Brown, and  immigrant workers - deliveristas - in New York City.  

Their everyday business has come to rely on unfair and dangerous labor practices, purposely confusing fee  structures, and privacy-threatening data usage. Deliveristas, restaurant owners, and consumers across the city  agree: the time has come for delivery apps to stop putting profits over people.  

Though the City of New York is preempted by various state and federal laws from directly regulating many aspects of  labor, the Council has the authority to require businesses that operate in NYC to obtain a license from the  Department of Consumer & Worker Protection (DCWP), and the Council can leverage this authority to regulate  business practices that can have adverse impacts on consumers and workers.  

The Council and the recent Administration have worked together in recent years to regulate certain industries with  problematic labor practices through the Council’s business licensing authority. Key examples of this include the Car  Wash Licensing Law and the updated Laundry Licensing Law. The City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act is another example  of the Council creatively exploiting the legal parameters within which it must operate to extend basic protections to  vulnerable classes of workers. Amit helped draft, negotiate, and implement all three of these laws.  

Using these laws as models and at the same time pursuing the passage of Council Member Brad Lander’s bill that  would amend the definition of “employee” in the existing Earned Sick Time Act (which Amit led the implementation of) to include most gig workers, Delivery Justice Now! would require food app delivery companies (UberEats, Doordash/Caviar, Postmates, Relay, GrubHub/Seamless, etc.) to obtain a license from DCWP in order to operate in  New York City.  

In order to obtain and maintain a license, these companies would be required to comply with both common-sense  fair and transparent business practices, as well as first-of-their-kind stipulations regulating exploitative practices concerning consumers, restaurants, and most importantly, deliveristas.  

The Delivery Justice Now Proposal would require all app delivery companies to: 

  1. Provide full and fair payment for all work done: 
  • Establish industry-wide minimum rates of pay based on distance and time  
  • Guarantee an average $15 / hour wage 
  • Establish a timely payment schedule 
  • Eliminate delivery minimums for payment 
  • Require payment for all work done, including for canceled orders  
  1. Provide complete transparency for all stakeholders: 
  • Require itemized disclosures to deliveristas, consumers, and restaurants about exactly how much  everyone is being paid for every order - including the app companies. 
  • Cap all fees charged to restaurants for all services at the existing 15% per order total - no other fees for any purpose would be allowed.

 

  1. Provide key worker protections 
  • Require app companies to establish recourse mechanisms to protect against arbitrary terminations. ● Offer live, telephonic assistance to deliveristas in the field with on-demand translation services. ● Allow any representative of a deliverista’s choosing (friend, family member, non-profit or worker  organizer rep) to represent a deliverista in any conversations or dispute resolutions.  

In addition, the DJA would be pursued alongside CM Lander’s bill to provide paid sick leave to  all gig workers and would amend the existing Health Department restaurant licensing law to  require restaurants to allow bathroom access to deliveristas.  

  1. Establish a fund for compensation in cases of injury or death 
  • Require app companies to obtain bonds that would provide money for a fund to cover expenses or  damages in the case of injury or death. 
  1. Provide or service all essential tools 
  • Require app companies to reimburse deliveristas for depreciation and ongoing bike and e-bike  maintenance costs if they own their bikes or provide (and replace) all bikes and tools for deliveristas if  they don't own them. 
  1. Comply with consumer and business data protections 
  • Ban the sale of consumer data to third parties. 
  • Ban the practice of "scraping" - adding food items to the app platforms without consent from  restaurants. 
  1. Keep and produce all records 
  • Require app companies to maintain, and provide to the City upon demand, records of every single  transaction and delivery, and itemized breakdown of who got paid how much and when.  

The DJA would also: 

  1. Establish a “Delivery Advocacy Board”  
  • The Delivery Advocacy Board would be tasked with comprehensively studying the industry in an  ongoing way, and would have the authority to advise the Council and DCWP on issues pertaining to  workers, consumers, and restaurants, so that the City can track the need for updated laws and rules. 

Enforcement

  • At the outset, all app delivery companies would be required to comply with all provisions in order to  obtain the license. In order to maintain the license, all companies will have to demonstrate continued  compliance. 
  • Enforcement would be primarily driven via complaints to DCWP from deliveristas, consumers, and  restaurants, as well as DCWP’s own authority to monitor and demand the production of records  regarding all relevant business practices.  
  • Each instance of a violation would be accompanied by a fine. Multiple violations would result in a  suspension (which DCWP can do on its own), with a more egregious collection of violations resulting

 

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