Delivery Justice Now! Proposal Summary
App-based delivery services have become a major source of injustice and indignity for 80,000 Black, Brown, Asian, 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.
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 to include most gig workers, the Delivery Justice Now! proposal 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:
- 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
- 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.
- Provide key worker protections
- Require app companies to establish recourse mechanisms to protect against arbitrary terminations.
- Require full, plain-language and multilingual transparency in the deliveristas contracts around rating systems, disactivations, suspensions.
- 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 DJN 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 DJN would also:
- 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.
- 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 in possible license revocation at OATH following an administrative hearing.
- If the City finds that there are multiple repeated violations (“pattern or practice”), the law would establish the right of the City’s Law Department to bring a case in court against the hiring party (in this case the licensed business) with large civil penalties attached (similar to what currently is provided for in the Freelance Isn’t Free Act).
- The City’s existing Freelance Isn’t Free Act re-affirms the rights of freelancers (gig workers, as deliveristas are) to seek damages in State court for certain breach of contract claims, and also awards complainants attorneys’ fees and double damages (i.e. the amount of money owed to the hired party) if they win.
- All provisions regarding deliveristas would be applicable to anyone regardless of immigration status.
Separately, through Amit S. Bagga’s proposed $100M “Fair Economy Fund,” the City would:
- Publicly fund delivery worker organizing and skills training
- As part of a larger, citywide effort, the City would fund worker organizing and skills training, that would not only allow workers to organize around problematic labor practices, but also would train workers on how to create their own worker cooperatives (where feasible) so that they can attempt to build and own their own businesses.
Separately, the City must also pursue: A minimum 450-mile network of protected bike lanes
10. Immediately expand the City's protected bike lanes to ensure that the 80,000 deliveristas who are plying the streets to eke out their living are as protected as possible in the pursuit of their work.
- An emphasis would need to be placed on expanding this network in The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and on Staten Island.