With an unemployment rate in New York City of 13.2 percent, many people have turned to work for grocery delivery apps like DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub that have had tremendous customer demand.
While delivery drivers have been vital to the nutrition and safety of New Yorkers, their working conditions, which were precarious before the pandemic, have deteriorated.
Even as sales increased by grocery stores, workers’ pay remained unpredictable. Since the drivers are self-employed, they are not entitled to a minimum wage, overtime or other benefits such as health insurance. Undocumented immigrants who are not eligible for unemployment or government assistance for coronavirus make up the bulk of the workforce in New York.
The additional competition from the increase in new workers has exacerbated the financial challenges. Stakeholders estimate that before the pandemic there were around 50,000 delivery workers – a number they say has grown exponentially. Uber alone said it had added 36,000 couriers in New York since March.
DoorDash and Uber said they provided extra help to delivery drivers during the pandemic, including offering sick pay for those infected. DoorDash, the nation’s largest app for grocery delivery, offers access to affordable appointments for telemedicine.
DoorDash also said it changed its wage model, which came under fire last year after it was revealed that tips were being used to subsidize its payments to workers. The company recently reached a $ 2.5 million settlement with prosecutors in Washington, DC after it was accused of misleading consumers in how it tipped its workers.
Drivers for grocery delivery apps are typically paid for per delivery, depending on the estimated duration and distance of a trip, as well as tips. Work can be convenient for people who complement a main source of income, but a struggle for those who depend on it as a main job, said advocates of workers.