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Delivery Workers Get a Raise—After the App Companies Have Their Say

Tip, tip, tip, and more links to start your day.

9:42 AM EDT on June 12, 2023

(Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

On Sunday afternoon, Mayor Eric Adams invited delivery workers to City Hall for a celebratory announcement: Starting on July 12, 2023, they'd be earning a government-backed, guaranteed minimum wage of $17.96 an hour, plus tips.

"I want to encourage you to keep a journal," Adams told assembled members of the labor group Los Deliveristas Unidos, which has been organizing for years for improved working conditions like better pay and the ability for workers to use restaurant bathrooms on the job. The mayor continued, "Because this is an American narrative and it's an American story to come here and fight on behalf of what you believe is right and organizing groups and using your political power and strength."

According to the mayor's press release, the pay raise for app-based delivery workers will increase to $19.96 an hour by April of 2025. With delivery wages currently hovering around $7 an hour, the pay raise, initiated by a 2021 law passed by the City Council, is meaningful. 

But the release didn't mention that the workers were supposed to get $23.82 by 2025, per the recommendation from Adams's Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. So what happened? Arm-twisting.

Grubhub, Doordash, Relay, and Uber, which control virtually all of the app-deliveries happening in New York City, vehemently opposed the increase, and pressured the Adams administration to water down the raise during the public comment period. They also managed to delay it for half a year, as it was supposed to go into effect on January 1, 2023.

"City Hall acquiesced to the lobbying of billion $ app companies, delaying raises owed to deliveristas & padding corporate profits off the backs of some of NYC’s hardest working NYers," City Comptroller Brad Lander, the sponsor of the 2021 legislation in the council, tweeted after the deal was announced. "Hidden under regulatory double-speak, the rule’s average base wage for a deliverista will be just $12.69 per hour after expenses this year, according to our office's calculations."

Lander broke down his calculation in March:

While DCWP attempts to present the "hourly wage" for workers as $19.96, with the proposed but misleading $3.60 per hour reduction for “multi-apping,” and the $2 reduction in 2023 for “phase-in” (better described as willfully allowing the apps to keep paying a subminimum wage for two years), $2.26 for expenses and properly allocating $1.10 towards time off (the base wage includes an additional 6% for vacation and sick pay) and $2.25 for taxes and workers compensation, the average base wage for 2023 would actually be $12.69.

New York State’s minimum wage reached $15 per hour in 2019. In 2019 dollars, the $12.69 on average per hour that deliveristas would take home under DCWP’s proposal is worth just $10.87 of goods and services in 2023. Even with the adjustments that DCWP includes to cover the costs of workers’ comp, Social Security, and Medicare, deliveristas still do not receive health insurance or unemployment insurance. If you proceed with this rule, you will be codifying a subminimum wage for the some of the most exploited workers.

The app companies, backed by billions in venture capital, are still not satisfied. Doordash told the CITY the company is considering filing a lawsuit; Uber spokesperson Josh Gold predicted a world in which the apps get even shittier, and blamed the pay increase: "They are telling apps: eliminate jobs, discourage tipping, force couriers to go faster and accept more trips—that’s how you’ll pay for this."

The raise from $17.96 in 2023 to $19.96 in 2025 is around 11 percent. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, consumer prices in the New York City region have increased by 3.7 percent in 2023 alone.

Here are some links to read before you start tipping $10 on everything brought to your household by a person on a bicycle and $50 on everything brought to you during a climate emergency:

And finally: Watch this Coney Island sea otter open its breakfast!

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