Los Deliveristas Unidos (LDU) is a collective of mostly immigrant app delivery workers who are fighting for justice. LDU is a new organizing effort spawned by the Workers Justice Project to give this vulnerable group of gig workers access to basic rights, such as the right to use the bathroom and a minimum wage. The bitter truth is that many food delivery workers can work 12 hours a day in the cold or rain for multiple food service apps and still not make enough to feed their own families.
Many food workers lost their jobs when the restaurants that employed them were forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their only option has been to work through a delivery app, such as GrubHub, DoorDash, Relay, and UberEats, among others. Today, New York City has as many as 65,000 app-based food delivery workers, who continue to keep the city fed.
WJP is a community-based non-profit that organizes for change, launched the LDU campaign to advance the rights of these essential workers and help them gain the basic protections they need and deserve.
They are seeking:
● The right to access restaurant bathrooms
● A minimum wage
● Protection of tips
● Increased security to stop bicycle theft
● Access to benefits in the case of an accident
● The ability to appeal if banned from an application
● Access to PPE to help prevent the spread of COVID-19
When the pandemic hit in early 2020 and restaurants across the city began to close, thousands of restaurant workers found themselves out of a job. For many, the only available option was to work through a delivery app, such as GrubHub, DoorDash, UberEats, and Relay, among others.
Workers Justice Project organizers quickly became aware of this emerging app-based labor force. With virtually no rights or protections, these employees work not for a human boss but for an app run by a tech industry whose unregulated practices elude the laws and norms of regular employment. For example, app-based food delivery workers lack access to protective equipment, a minimum wage, or even the use of a bathroom.
In March 2020, WJP started organizing app delivery workers in earnest. Quickly, leaders emerged from within the ranks. And today, the struggle is being waged by the workers themselves.
Food app delivery workers are easily exploited for two reasons. First, they are mostly immigrants with limited proficiency in English. App-based companies count on this, providing workers with complicated and confusing legally binding agreements, which highlights the lack transparency in the industry. As a result of recent crackdowns on immigrants by the federal government, many immigrants are afraid to speak up. Second, the law classifies these workers as independent contractors. That designation obscures a loophole in the law that prevents gig workers from receiving the same rights and benefits as regular employees in the United States, such as a minimum wage, the right to join or form a union, workers compensation insurance, or even paid sick days. Many other gig workers, such as Uber and Lyft drivers, face the same challenges.