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New York City food delivery workers win fight for bathroom access, greater tip transparency

“Among the new rules debuting this week: delivery workers are entitled to use the customer bathroom at restaurants where they’re picking up an order,” The City reported. “Restaurant managers’ refusal to allow restroom access became a flashpoint for the Deliveristas two years ago at the onset of the pandemic.”

Delivery workers had to adjust their routes in order to find a restroom, which then often negatively affected their already low earnings. “Even including tips, the hourly net pay is $12.21, below NY’s $15 minimum wage,” Gothamist reported last year.

Other changes implemented this week prohibit applications “from soliciting a tip from a customer unless it discloses the amount or proportion of each gratuity provided to the delivery worker,” the New York City Consumer and Worker Protection office said. Customers must also be informed “the manner in which gratuities are provided, whether immediately or not, and whether in cash or not.”

“We’re going to see big, big changes with these laws,” delivery worker Manny Ramírez told The City. “The discrepancy between what the client thinks we get paid and what the apps actually pay was immense—but now there is more awareness, and we felt like we’d won with that alone.”

These laws mark major wins for thousands of food delivery workers like Galvez and Ramírez, many of whom are immigrants and have lacked critical workplace protections, yet have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and natural disasters.

Recall the images capturing delivery workers trekking through flooding amid Hurricane Ida last year. While then-Mayor Bill de Blasio urged New Yorkers to stay off the roads, that wasn’t an option for food delivery workers. Some reported damage to their bikes, which are essential to their work. “Please do not be the person who orders delivery during a flash flood that the NWS has deemed a dangerous and life-threatening situation. It puts vulnerable people at risk,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez warned at the time. “If it’s too dangerous for you, it’s too dangerous for them.”

The City reports that food delivery workers and their advocates celebrated the new laws during a recent rally that featured Ocasio-Cortez and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “Also joining were city Comptroller Brad Lander and Councilmembers Carlina Rivera (D-Manhattan) and Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn), among the lawmakers who introduced the Council bills.”

“The actual organizing of these workers can be and is effective in not just fighting back, but in actually expanding the quality of life for people, particularly those who make a living through all of these apps,” Ocasio-Cortez told The City. “What I’m really excited to explore with them is how we can use this as a launching point for growth in workers rights and greater dignity for workers, both across the state and across the country.”

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