Are gig worker complaints a retail problem?
A new study finds that New York City’s app-based delivery workers regularly face nonpayment or underpayment, unsanitary or unsafe working conditions and the risk of violence.
The study from advocacy group Worker’s Justice Project in partnership with Cornell University was based on a survey of 500 app-based workers, many of whom work for Grubhub, Doordash and UberEats. It comes as third-party delivery marketplaces are being counted on for speedy online delivery by retailers as well.
Among the findings:
- Forty-two percent experienced non-payment or underpayment.
- Forty-nine percent have been in an accident or crash while making a delivery. Seventy-five percent of these paid for the medical care with their personal funds.
- Fifty-four percent have experienced bike theft and 30 percent were physically assaulted during the robbery.
The report adds to the steady stream of bad press surrounding gig workers’ treatment.
On Monday in an open letter, Gig Workers Collective, an offshoot of a Facebook group for disgruntled Instacart shoppers, called on Instacart customers to delete the grocery delivery app, charging the soon-to-be-public company “will never do right by its shoppers” or delivery workers.
On September 2, dozens of DoorDash’s drivers affiliated with advocacy groups formed a car caravan outside the San Francisco home of the gig platform’s CEO to demand more transparency around tips and higher wages.
The longstanding debate over employment status of gig workers has been taking place globally. Gig economy companies assert that reclassifying workers as employees would add expenses, cost jobs and reduce the flexibility that their workers prize. Labor activists counter that gig companies are shifting business risk to precarious workers without other employment opportunities.
Retailers and restaurants have their own gripes with gig companies, particularly over fees. They are rarely involved in the legislation or calls for regulation, although a pending bill in New York City calls for restaurants to allow delivery workers to use their bathrooms.
A recent article by the San Francisco Examiner finds restaurant owners sympathetic to the plight of gig workers as many have developed relationships with their delivery drivers. Challenges with gig related fee structures and online listings, however, loom larger. Philmore Creamery owner Phil Malik told the publication, “We’re just so buried in the business that our head is in the sand on a lot of these issues.”
- NYC food delivery workers face a ‘harrowing world’ – Cornell University
- New Legislation Would Require Restaurants To Let Delivery Cyclists Use Their Restroom – Gothamist
- DoorDash workers protest outside CEO Tony Xu’s home demanding better pay, tip transparency and PPE – TechCrunch
- As Philly-based GoPuff goes global, its delivery drivers demand better pay and work conditions – Philadelphia Inquirer
- #DeleteInstacart – Gig Workers Collective
- Instacart workers urge customers to delete the app over labor issues – MarketWatch
- Council Advances Bills To Improve Working Conditions For Delivery Workers – Gothamist
- DoorDash drivers want more money. We asked restaurant owners to weigh in – San Francisco Examiner
- GoPuff drivers demand better treatment from company – The Hill
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do the continuing issues around gig worker employment and third-party services risk holding back the full potential of online delivery? Are these issues reflecting back on retailers and restaurants and do you see issues around worker treatment and fees getting resolved?