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Council Candidate Puts Forward Proposal to Protect Workers From ‘Predatory’ Food App Companies

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April 8, 2021 By Ryan Songalia

Amit Bagga, a candidate for city council, introduced an ambitious policy proposal Thursday that aims to curb what he describes as “predatory and exploitative practices” of the City’s 80,000 food delivery workers—many of whom are immigrants—by the large food app companies.

The proposal, titled Delivery Justice Now!, represents a joint effort put together by Bagga in conjunction with industry advocates and organizations such as the Workers Justice Project and Los Deliveristas Unidos. It also has the backing of several council candidates across Queens.

Advocates argue that the app companies “lack transparency around fees, wages and restaurant payments,” something they argue needs to be rectified.

The proposal calls for the creation of a “Delivery Advocacy Board,” as well as public funding for organizations that educate workers on topics such as traffic safety and finding higher paying employment opportunities.

Council Candidate Amit S. Bagga at a rally by the Brooklyn Bridge in March

Under the proposal, a fund would be established to compensate workers who are killed or injured; funds would be available to provide workers with essential items, such as bikes, bags and phones; the practice of “scraping” would be banned, where restaurants are added to apps without their consent; and the protected bicycle lane network would be expanded—to at least 450 miles.

The policy also calls for legislation under which food delivery app companies like UberEats and Seamless would have to comply with a list of stipulations in order to obtain and maintain a license from the City’s Department of Consumer & Worker Protection.

Bagga calls for delivery workers to be provided with protection against arbitrary termination; bathroom access; in-language field assistance; and paid sick leave, which is included in the text of the “NYC’s Essential Workers Bill of Rights” legislative package, which, if passed, would extend coverage to gig workers.

“During the pandemic, from every al pastor to every pizza delivered, the Big Tech food delivery industry has made billions off consumers and restaurants, all while deeply exploiting deliveristas, and it’s now time for us to rein these companies in and have our policy reflect our values,” said Bagga, who is running to represent the 26th District that covers Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City.

Photo: Gustavo Ajche @AjcheGustavo

Gustavo Ajche, a member of the delivery workers organizing collective Los Deliveristas Unido, echoed Bagga’s calls for action, saying workers face a number of difficulties each day in terms of getting paid by the apps, having their bicycles stolen, and being hurt in traffic crashes.

The question of how delivery workers get paid is one not easily answered, not even by workers themselves. According to Bagga’s campaign, workers often earn as little as $400 a week, and have to wait up to a month and a half to collect their pay. The terms of payment can also be vague.

Provisions in this policy would ensure delivery workers are paid at least the city minimum wage of $15, similar to how ride share drivers are paid.

Bagga’s proposal has drawn support from other candidates running for city council in Queens and across the city.

Hailie Kim, who is also running for the District 26 seat, has thrown her support behind the proposal.

“Passing the Delivery Justice Now! proposal would be a major first step towards implementing regulations that protect the people who make and deliver our food,” Kim said.

Meanwhile, Steven Raga, another candidate running for District 26, said he backs it.

“The Delivery Justice Now proposal is a great initiative and highlights a policy issue that needs special attention,” Raga said. “Regardless of who wins this seat, justice for our deliveristas is vital and I’m happy to see many fellow candidates sign onto the plan.”

Other city council candidates in Queens to sign on in support of the proposal are Shekar Krishnan, Juan Ardila, Ingrid Gomez and Jaslin Kaur.

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