Senator Chuck Schumer aims to provide infrastructure dollars to help food application workers

Sen. Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) hopes to leverage funds from the Federal Infrastructure Bill to build rest areas for delivery people in New York City, he said Wednesday during a walk in Harlem with the Los Deliveristas Unidos trade union group.

“I’ll tell them about the Deliveristas,” promised the Senate majority leader of his colleagues in Washington. “For example, they want small kiosks, small shelters where they can rest, go to the toilet – the infrastructure money could be used for that. We would give it to the city and we would pressure the city to do it.

He was referring to the $ 1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package the Senate passed last month, which includes funds for roads, bridges and more.

Shortly before a group drove down Amsterdam Avenue near City College, Schumer listened to more than a dozen delivery men describe the serious accidents they encountered at work, from collisions with cars to the crashing their bikes while trying to avoid potholes and oil spills on city streets.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer talks to Jonán, a member of Los Deliveristas Unidos, in Harlem.
Ben Fractenberg / THE CITY

Workers also spoke about their wages, with most saying they rarely made more than $ 90 to $ 100 in a 12-hour day – well below the city’s minimum wage of $ 15 an hour.

And largely immigrant workers have digested the value of having one of the country’s most powerful rulers – another New York City cyclist – by their side.

“We are grateful that the senator contacted us, and we hope he learned more about the job and got a feel for the way we live day to day,” Jonán, a delivery boy from Washington Heights that Schumer accompanied, told THE CITY in Spanish.

“One delivery is not enough to understand the full experience, it’s something you have to do every day to really feel what we are feeling,” said Jonán, who asked that his last name not be released. for fear of reprisals from applications.

Said Schumer of his two hours with Los Deliveristas Unidos: “It was quite an education, and I want to educate a lot of people about it. “

“Essential” workers

Schumer is the latest elected to answer calls from Los Deliveristas Unidos, a group of app-based delivery people who have organized themselves around working conditions.

Last month, city council approved a list of historic bills, including minimum payments per trip and a right to use restaurant bathrooms – making New York the first major U.S. city to implement such protections for food delivery people based on apps.

Theft of expensive e-bikes and assaults at work have become increasingly pressing issues, prompting workers to band together for safety, communicate by WhatsApp, and watch each other as they navigate the streets. from the city.

In March, Francisco Villalva Vitinio, a delivery boy from Harlem, was shot dead by a stranger who tried to steal his electric bike, his family told THE CITY. A Queens man was arrested and charged with murder in May.

A group of Deliveristas met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in Hamilton Heights on October 13, 2021.

The delivery men taking part in the ride with Schumer.
Ben Fractenberg / THE CITY

Schumer hailed delivery people as “essential” on Wednesday.

“It’s not an easy job. It is both difficult and dangerous work, ”he said. “Sometimes people don’t treat you very nicely, they don’t even know they should tip you like they give a waiter in a restaurant. So there is a lot to be done to educate the public.

New York City’s roughly 65,000 food delivery workers earn an average of $ 7.87 an hour before tips, according to a survey released last month of more than 500 app-based workers.

Over 85% of those surveyed said app-based delivery work was their main and only job, questioning the portrayal of so-called “concert” work by tech companies like DoorDash and Uber Eats.

Almost half said they had an accident during a delivery, according to the survey by the Workers Justice Project and the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

Workers who suffered injuries on the job were among those who rode with Schumer on Wednesday.

Manny Ramírez, a Washington Heights delivery boy, needed emergency care when a driver hit him mid-delivery in late September.

Rufino Marcelo has a scar on his left cheek from an accident he suffered at work four years ago. He jumped off his bike after slipping over an oil spill in the street and landed face first on broken glass on the sidewalk.

“That’s why we demand safer roads, to avoid more accidents,” Marcelo, 39, said in Spanish.

Deliverista Rufino Marcelo showed a scar he endured after falling from his bike to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in Hamilton Heights on October 13, 2021.

Deliverista Rufino Marcelo showed a scar which he suffered after falling from his bicycle.
Ben Fractenberg / THE CITY

And Orquídea, 28, who declined to give her last name, said she braved the flood waters in the Bronx during Hurricane Ida last month – only to get pennies in return.

“Because of the rain, I only had three deliveries all night,” she said in Spanish. “Each only paid $ 4 or $ 7.”

Order a cheesecake

As a result of local reforms, the Deliveristas review legislation at the state or federal level.

On the program: the federal law on the protection of the right to organize, or PRO, a radical reform of the national labor law which would grant, among other things, full employment rights to independent entrepreneurs at the national level.

Approved by the House in March, the bill remains stuck in the 50-50 split Senate, which needs at least 60 votes to avoid an obstruction.

Although elements of the PRO law have found their way into the infrastructure bill, for procedural reasons they are unlikely to survive a process known as budget reconciliation that would allow the package to go forward. be adopted with 51 votes.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) met with a group of Deliveristas in Hamilton Heights on October 13, 2021.

Senator Chuck Schumer speaks to delivery people in Harlem.
Ben Fractenberg / THE CITY

Schumer reiterated his support for the PRO Act in remarks to THE CITY on delivery people. “We have to make sure they can organize themselves. There shouldn’t be any obstacles in the way they organize themselves, and we’re going to look at all the different ways for them to do it.

Schumer said he usually orders delivery directly to restaurants, but has used Grubhub in the past to obtain food.

“One thing I order is cheesecake,” he said. “The junior cheesecake. It’s my favorite thing.


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