New York City’s food delivery workers, after long legal challenges, have finally secured a landmark minimum wage of $17.96 per hour, excluding tips.
This achievement, effective since Monday, will increase to $19.96 by 2025, encompassing vehicle and insurance costs.
However, this victory is being dampened by the major delivery platforms, including DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub, which have controversially altered their tipping policies, thereby decreasing workers’ earnings.
Previously, the average hourly earnings for the tens of thousands of delivery workers in the city were estimated to be around $11.
Sergio Ajche, the founder of Los Deliveristas Unidos, expressed his deep pride in this achievement, stating, “Three years ago, I could only hope for this moment. This is a tremendous change, and it shows that anything is possible.”
This sentiment was echoed at the NYC Central Labor Council’s midtown Manhattan headquarters, attended by Mayor Eric Adams, where the historical significance of this victory for the gig economy was highlighted.
“This is a historical moment — don’t downplay it,” Adams emphasized, acknowledging the broader implications of this win.
However, the response of delivery companies to the new wage law has cast a shadow over this achievement.
Doordash and Uber Eats have revised their tipping procedures, limiting tipping options to post-delivery, a shift from the previous practice of allowing customers to tip when placing their orders.
This change has led to a stark drop in tips for delivery workers, as many in the industry reported.
Tono Solis, a delivery worker and organizer, lamented this development, describing it as “bittersweet” and akin to “a form of revenge.”
The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) is reviewing these changes. Vilda Vera Mayuga, the commissioner, told The City, “We certainly don’t endorse that — people should pay as they wish.”
In contrast to its competitors, Grubhub has not altered its tipping model but has reduced the suggested tip range in New York City from the previously 10-25% to 0-10%,
Both DoorDash and Uber justified their actions by referring to a DCWP study, with DoorDash spokesperson Eli Scheinholtz stating the changes help “balance the impact” of the law.
Uber spokesperson Josh Gold cited the city’s emphasis on productivity gains as a reason for their move.
The DCWP has criticized the altered tipping procedures, with spokesperson Michael Lanza stating, “This is entirely Uber and DoorDash’s own business decision.”
“DCWP supports customers having the option to tip whatever amount they would like, and we do not endorse this nor have we suggested the apps change their tipping policy,” Lanza added.
Meanwhile, Ajche urged the companies to reconsider their approach, highlighting customer frustrations and the negative perception it creates for these platforms.