Delivery workers, advocates celebrate in Times Square new labor rights taking effect Monday

New labor protections for the city’s tens of thousands of delivery workers are set to take effect Monday, Jan. 24, and advocates and politicians rallied in Times Square the day before to promote the incoming laws.

The delivery worker collective Los Deliveristas Unidos and the immigrant worker advocacy group Workers Justice Project organized the event that was a mix of celebration and a know-your-rights campaign, praising the new regulations as a move toward fairer conditions in the gig economy.

“[We] have demonstrated that it is possible to rewrite the rules of the delivery app industry and it is possible to guarantee labor protections throughout delivery workers,” said Ligia Guallpa, executive director at the Workers Justice Project. “We will continue to organize and transform this industry.”

The first set of new laws passed by the City Council in September are in effect Monday and will provide protections for delivery workers in New York City transporting food for companies like GrubHub, DoorDash, and Relay.

A rally-goer holds a Los Deliveristas Unidos flag.Photo by Adrian Childress

Los Deliveristas Unidos organized for better conditions on behalf of some 65,000 workers, many of them immigrants from Central America, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said their movement could be a model for future organizing. 

“Hard-working people, who just want a better life for themselves and who organized, they are a model for the whole city,” Schumer said. “We want to educate the public about Los Deliveristas, about what is needed, how they can back them up, and how we can support other worker organizations to make our city a fairer and more equitable place.”

Apps must tell the workers how much a customer tips and detail their total pay and gratuities they got for the previous day, according to the Department of of Consumer and Worker Protection.

The new rules also give better bathroom access to workers at restaurants for which they deliver.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer kneels with activists and delivery workers in Times Square on Jan. 23.Photo by Adrian Childress

More protections are set to roll out this spring and at the beginning of next year. 

The Council in September passed a package of six pieces of legislation to improve working conditions for delivery workers who worked through the darkest days of the pandemic bringing food to people’s doorsteps and helped keep restaurants afloat.

Starting on April 22, more law changes will give workers better control over their routes, provide greater pay protections and transparency, and require apps to give a free insulated food bag after six deliveries.

The city must also study a new minimum pay rate set to be released at the beginning of next year.

Prominent New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that the changes should serve as a contrast to other states eroding labor rights like California.

Golden State voters in 2020 approved a law known as Proposition 22 to classify app-based rideshare and delivery workers as independent contractors as opposed to employees. 

“We need to make sure that New York City is a counterpoint to what happened in California, because in California big money and tech apps organized to make sure that workers got less dignity, and they weren’t recognized as legitimate workers,” Ocasio-Cortez told rally attendees. “Here in New York City delivery workers are showing there’s another way.”

“They’re showing you can stand up and fight back, they’re showing you can stand up and organize for basic needs like using a bathroom in the restaurants whose food you are delivering — come on,” she added.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rallies with delivery workers in Times Square on Sunday, Jan. 23.Photo by Adrian Childress