New York Delivery Men Struggle To Improve Their Working Conditions: "It’s David Versus Goliath"

While Jonathan Bazán was delivering food on his motorcycle, a car ran a traffic light and hit him. Before, he worked more than ten hours a day, but since the accident he has reduced the day to five hours, since he combines work with rehabilitation. The 29-year-old Mexican’s first job in New York was as a restaurant dishwasher. Then he went to the kitchen, but for two years he has dedicated himself to bringing food from one side of New York to the other through various applications.

“To be deliverista (delivery man) is not very safe, but he earns a little more than working for a restaurant, “says Bazán. He explains that the companies he works for pay him between 3 and 4 dollars (2.66 and 3.55 euros) for order, plus tip.

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There are an estimated 65,000 food delivery people in New York. In addition to potential traffic accidents, these workers face the possibility of having their electric bicycles and motorcycles stolen.

This is the case of Antonio Solís, a member of the group The United Deliveristas. His motorcycle was stolen while he was carrying food to a room without an elevator. After the incident, he installed a GPS in his new vehicle. Now he shares the location of his motorcycle with other dealers in the area to have a backup if it happens again. “Recently some colleagues had three motorcycles stolen by putting them in a van. I published it live (on the delivery network in the area), we went and the motorcycles were already inside a van. We all arrived and the police arrived and I don’t know They managed to take them away. They took one nothing more, “says Solís.

However, the Mexican emphasizes that they do not always have the prompt support of the police and that they are sometimes forced to face dangerous situations when trying to follow the GPS signal of the stolen motorcycle on their own: “We know that the motorcycle is there. But we don’t know if the thief is carrying a weapon and we have to take care of ourselves. “

Motorcycles and bicycles, in addition to being an essential work tool, represent a great initial investment for delivery men. Gustavo Cabrera, 19, bought one two years ago to start working, thus following in the footsteps of his cousins. He also had to purchase a thermal bag for the food, which usually costs between $ 50 and $ 60 (44 and 53 euros). Now he works in Queens and Brooklyn delivering food for ten hours five or six days a week.

Despite the fact that the conditions are harsh, especially when the weather is not good, everyone indicates that they like this job both for the freedom they say they feel when walking the streets of New York and for not having to answer to any direct boss. But they all work for various companies, such as Uber Eats, DoorDash or Postmates, and they complain about the lack of transparency of the applications, especially when it comes to quoting all of their tips.

“We are struggling with apps millionaires, It is like a fight between David and Goliath, so to speak, but we are strong and we have shown it, “says Gustavo Ajche, one of the founders and leaders of Los Deliveristas Unidos.

Since this Guatemalan began the movement at the beginning of the pandemic, the Latino delivery community has managed to have more voice. His biggest mobilization was a march through the city in which more than 3,000 workers participated in April.

The biggest milestone was getting the New York City Council pass a legislative package, with six bills. “Between now and January 24, part of the legislation that we managed to win will come into force, such as access to bathrooms, transparency in tips and that (the apps) do not charge you an additional payment when you want to withdraw your money or that the applications give you a bag when you want to work with them. “

Ajche recalls that during the pandemic, delivery men became essential so that no one had to leave the house and delivered to New Yorkers not only food from restaurants and supermarkets, but also a lot of alcohol. But he criticizes that, despite the risk they ran, the locals would not even let them go to the bathroom on the pretext that the facilities were only for employees: “It was not logical, the delivery men helped prevent those businesses from going bankrupt. Many of the small businesses are alive thanks to the food delivery man who never stopped working. “

Los Deliveristas Unidos, made up mainly of Latinos but also seeking to integrate the community of delivery drivers in Bangladesh, has many challenges to achieve, such as applications committing to pay an hourly wage or increasing the amount delivered by delivery drivers. per trip.

They also want to make the city safer for them, something the organization has already raised with both Chuck Schumer, a New York senator and Democratic Majority Leader in the Upper House, and incoming Mayor Eric Adams. “I don’t want to get excited or excited,” says Ajche in reference to the possible changes that the coming to power of former police officer Adams may entail for his union, especially in relation to insecurity, when he takes over the reins of the city next January.

Now, he works as a delivery boy only in the evenings and on weekends. He sends a large part of the money he earns to his family in Guatemala to pay for his children’s university: “The American dream and a better life for our families is why all of us who emigrate to this country come. Thanks to this country I have achieved that my children are already in the University. I do not complain in that sense, but I fight for the delivery men, because many immigrant people do not know that they have rights, have a voice or have the power to make things change. “

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