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Delivery App Companies Would Rather Sue Than Give Their Workers a Raise

Plus: Some links, including a samosa burger.

9:56 AM EDT on July 7, 2023

(Peter Burka / Flickr)

Starting July 12, app-based delivery workers in New York City must be paid at least $17.96/hour, plus tips. Who would object to delivery workers, who put their bodies and health at risk to deliver food through pandemics and climate emergencies, earning a little more than the $15/hour minimum wage? 

DoorDash and Uber have filed separate lawsuits in New York state court suing New York City and seeking to block the law, with Grubhub joining DoorDash's lawsuit.

"This fatally flawed and subjective rulemaking process unsurprisingly worsened these already problematic policies," DoorDash said in a statement. Their lawsuit alleges the new regulations violate a state law against "arbitrary and capricious" agency rules, and they want the state to block it.

The new minimum wage law was set in June, and had already been delayed for months and watered down by the delivery app companies. The City's Department of Consumer and Worker Protection initially stated that the workers should make $23.82/hour by 2025. Instead, they will make $19.96 by the time the law is fully phased in.

At the time of the announcement of the law, the City's analysis showed that delivery workers earned just above $7/hour.

"After a 7-month delay in implementation of a minimum pay rate, it's unconscionable that multi-billion dollar companies would now turn around and continue to do everything in their power to prevent New York City's more than 65,000 app-based delivery workers from earning a livable wage," Los Deliveristas Unidos, a labor group which has advocated for minimum wage protections for delivery workers, said in a statement.

DoorDash, in a statement, told Hell Gate, "Bad policies cannot go unchallenged, and we will not stand by and let the harmful impacts of this earnings standard on New York City customers, merchants, and the delivery workers it was intended to support go unchecked."

City Comptroller Brad Lander, who as a City Councilmember sponsored the bill that led to the raise, also released a statement. "No surprise that Grubhub, DoorDash, and Uber are out to extract every penny they can from the delivery workers whose labor they rely on: that's the gig business model," Lander wrote. 

He added, "Gig companies have sued New York City repeatedly: to block accessibility requirements for people-with-disabilities, to reduce cruising time, and to prevent the minimum pay requirement for for-hire drivers that became law in 2019. But New York City's for-hire driver minimum pay law benefits drivers without harming ridership, and the delivery-worker minimum pay law will work just as well."

It's true: Uber has sued the City before to block raises for drivers for its rideshare service and successfully held them up. Will the City's rules actually go into effect? We'll find out soon.

Some things we know now:

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