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Transcript: Mayor Adams Announces Minimum Pay Rate for Delivery Workers

June 11, 2023

Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga, Department of Consumer and Worker Protection: I'm doubly celebrating today. I am Vilda Vera Mayuga, commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. Today, we are joined by our mayor, Mayor Eric Adams, and also the executive director of the Workers Justice Project, Ligia Guallpa, and a founding member of Los Deliveristas Unidos Gustavo Ajche. Lots of workers behind us. We have our friends from 32BJ, Council Member Gale Brewer, thank you so much for all the support.

Now I want to start today… Oh, Council Member Marjorie Velázquez. We have a tradition in my household and that is that every Friday is movie night, so my kids really look forward to that and that means we order in. And so it's very special to us, something that we do every Friday, and we really depend on all of the delivery workers who help us keep that tradition alive.

It's a chance for us all to reconnect after a busy week. A moment that I cherish so much as a working parent of two rapidly growing kids and it's all possible to delivery workers. App-based restaurant delivery workers serve our city in rain, snow, and extreme heat only to earn less than minimum wage with no benefits. Throughout the pandemic, they provided warm meals directly to our doors, helping so many of us to stay safe and healthy inside our homes and providing a crucial lifeline that allowed so many of our beloved restaurants to stay open for business during a time of such uncertainty. Ensuring these workers earn a dignified pay is an issue of equity. Like all workers, delivery workers deserve fair pay for their labor and to be able to support themselves and their loved ones. This new minimum pay rate will ensure they earn a better day's pay while still allowing for flexibility for both apps and workers.

When the rate is in full effect in 2025, these workers will make at least $19.96 an hour, guaranteeing New York City's more than 60,000 app-based restaurant delivery workers at dignified pay rate and establishing pay equity with other workers who are protected by the minimum wage. We will continue working with advocates and worker groups like Ligia and LDU here with us today to conduct outreach to ensure that workers learn about the new pay rate and DCWP will monitor compliance by requiring apps to submit detailed reports to us.

I am so proud that our city has fulfilled its promise to deliver greater financial stability to more than 60,000 workers and their families. I encourage all delivery workers to visit or call 311 and say delivery worker to learn more about the new pay rate. And if you believe your worker rights have been violated, I urge you to reach out to us to make a complaint. I'm going to share some words in Spanish.

[Speaks in Spanish]

And with that, I am going to turn it over to Mayor Adams, who has centered this administration around helping working families in our city here.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you. Thank you. Thanks. Thanks so much, commissioner. And I really wanted to encourage those who are part of the organizing and part of who have been on the ground doing this. I mean, I want to encourage you to keep a journal because this is an American narrative and it's an American story to come here and fight on behalf of what you believe is right and organizing groups and using your political power and strength. And many of you are going to go on from being deliveristas to open up chains of restaurants. You're going to go on to organize in other groups. You're going to go on to producing your own products and allowing those products to be sold. I think this is only the beginning, and the commissioner is right to ensure that no one is in our city hiding in the shadows of not being paid the minimum wage.

And it's good for the economy because when the deliveristas are paid the right salary, they're going to recycle the dollars back into the communities. They're going to become a benefit to the city and not an inhibitor to the city. This is an exciting moment. It's something that we wanted to get right because New York City is setting the tone for across America, and I want to thank my councilpersons who are here for their support as well as Senator Schumer. He's in route now, but I want to thank him for the role that he has played on advocating on behalf. And the commissioner has done an amazing job of balancing the continuation and expansion of restaurants in our community and our city and the employees who are there, but also the other aspect of it, those who are delivering food.

Those who I saw during the years of Covid, when people were able to shelter in place, the reason they were able to shelter in place is because these men and women were delivering food and services to them. We had two New Yorks, those who were able to stay home and those who created the environment so you were able to stay home and we owed them a debt of gratitude. 

They delivered for us, now we are delivering for them. It is the right thing to do and we are proud of it. Technology has transformed the way we take out and deliver. Taking New Yorkers from a drawer full of paper menus to an amazing range of different cuisines right on your phone, right on your smartphone, and able to get that service delivered to your door. It has been great for restaurants, consumers, and the tech companies. Today, we're now saying it is good for those who are delivering the food as well. We are making sure that working people who power the sector are getting their fair share. There are the contract workers who have to cover lots of costs themselves, paying for the bike or car, and medical bills if they get sick or hurt, and they deserve a raise. Just as we fought for raises and will continue to do so for our union members, we are fighting for raises for this union organizing body that is here.

Effective July 12th, we are raising the minimum wage for our city's app-based restaurant delivery workers from an average of $7 an hour to at least $17.96 an hour, significantly boosting the base pay rate for over 60,000 of the hardest working New Yorkers out there. You see them every day, all day coming and delivering the necessities that you need. The ones who brings you pizza in the snow and that fried food you like in the rain. This new minimum pay rate guarantees these workers, their families can earn a living. They should not be delivering food to your household and they can't put food on the plate in their household. We are balancing out on both sides of the equation.

The bottom line: our delivery workers have consistently delivered and we understand that. The rise of delivery apps and services has created a new kind of workforce and a new kind of workforce need new policies and protections from our city government. Supporting them is a core part of our working people's agenda. We say it over and over again, this is administration of a working people's agenda. I want to thank everyone who played a crucial role in this initiative and particularly the Los Deliveristas Unidos, Ligia Guallpa for what you have done and has been consistent in this area and all who has delivered items for us 24/7, kept this city a city that never sleeps because our deliveristas are on our streets delivering the food to us. As a former paperboy that delivered papers to the homes of countless number of people when the Long Island press was there, I lived off those tips. That is not today that we are living in now. People must live off of a base salary and I encourage everyone who's listening to this, don't forget the tip. We like the tips as well. Congratulations to all.

Commissioner Mayuga: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. And now I'd like to introduce two people who fought so hard to get a just pay rate for delivery workers. Ligia Guallpa, executive director of the Workers Justice Project and Gustavo Ajche of Los Deliveristas Unidos.

Ligia Guallpa, Director, Workers Justice Project: Thank you Mayor Adams and Commissioner Mayuga for welcoming us. So, good afternoon everybody. My name is Ligia Guallpa, I'm the executive director of the Workers Justice Project, which organized Los Deliveristas Unidos in 2020. And I'm proud to be here today. And today marks a historic moment in our city's history. We can finally say that New York City's more than 60,000 app delivery workers who are essential to our city will soon be guaranteed a minimum pay.

New York City is delivering justice for deliveristas. This victory would have not been possible without so many people in this room and as well as countless others and I want to acknowledge a few of them. And first I want to say thank you to Mayor Adams, and also his administration for setting the minimum pay rate and for recognizing the contributions of delivery workers. And a special thank you to Deputy Mayor Maria Torres Springer and our Commissioner Mayuda. And I also want to say thank you to Brad Lander who first championed this minimum pay as a city council member. And I want to say thank you also who we're going to see in soon, our Senator Schumer, who has been our ally, our partner, our biggest supporter since the beginning. And we're grateful to you both, as well as our city and state elected officials for their endless support and their commitment, not only to Deliveristas but to every worker in our city.

And also thank you to New Yorkers who use delivery apps and demanded this very moment in our history. And unfortunately, apps will try to scare customers by claiming that today's announcement will force to raise prices. They will say that $19.96 cents per hour is too extreme. But what they won't tell you is that they force deliveristas, or delivery workers, to spend hundreds of dollars a month just so they can do this work. The apps won't tell you that deliveristas don't receive any benefits, and they're required to spend their hard-earned money on expenses, footing the bills for their equipment, like e-bikes, were very expensive. Health insurance protect the gear, cellphone plans and so much more.

And last, I also want to say thank you to every courageous deliverista who's part of Los Deliveristas Unidos, who has been critical to our cities. And this movement started three years ago when Gustavo Adjche, who's a founding member also of Workers Justice Project, began responding to the deliveristas by connecting them with resources, cash relief, most importantly, a safe space to organize through the workers justice during the pandemic. After countless street meetings, conversations during the pandemic, and after having conversations about the hard work, the poverty pay, unsafe working conditions they were facing during the pandemic, deliveristas from all over our city, from the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens came together to organize and fight for better working conditions. A group chat that was actually created during the pandemic, as Los Deliveristas Unidos, as emergency response, and within months, that chat grew into one of the largest movement of gig workers that this country has ever seen. 

And today, announcements serves as a reminder, not only to the power of organizing, but the power of workers everywhere in our city, in our country. Despite that what the app companies are claiming, this first of its kind minimum pay rate will uplift working and immigrant families, ensure that workers who keep New Yorkers fed, are able to keep also their families fed too. The Workers Justice Project is honored to be part of this historic moment. We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with Mayor Adams, his administration, city council, Senator Schumer, to ensure that every worker in our city is protected, is safe, is treated with dignity and respect that they deserve. Thank you.

Gustavo Ajche, Founder, Los Deliveristas Unidos: [Speaks in Spanish.]

Guallpa: So good afternoon. My name is Gustavo Ajche, and I'm the founder of Los Deliveristas Unidos and representing 60,000 up delivery workers who live their homes with the hope to provide a better life to their families.

Ajche: [Speaks in Spanish.]

Guallpa: To get to this moment, we fought a lot, and many companies have become billionaires from our hard work and our labor.

Ajche: [Speaks in Spanish.]

Guallpa: This fight started with a vision to bring dignity and better working conditions to every worker in our city, and I want to say a special thank you to every New Yorker for their generous tips. But now, we can say we're not going to only rely on the tips, but actually on a minimum pay for our labor.

Ajche: [Speaks in Spanish.]

Guallpa: So to get to this moment, we have suffered a lot, especially being big victims of union busting type of tactics, but nothing stopped us to get us to this moment.

Ajche: [Speaks in Spanish.]

Guallpa: So in one moment of my time, I didn't want to keep organizing, but until 2020, while I was working as a delivery worker, I got into an accident and I called the company to report my accident. And what the company really cared more was if the food was okay.

Ajche: [Speaks in Spanish.]

Guallpa: That accident inspired me to keep organizing and fighting. I'm a person that likes and will never stop fighting. And I'm proud to be here, but also to say thank you to our mayor, Eric Adams, our commissioner, Mayuga, and every city council member that has stood behind us, and also allies, organizations that has been part of and has kept us supporting. And thank you for having our back.

Ajche: [Speaks in Spanish.]

Guallpa: I forgot to mention that Gustavo also thanks Senator Schumer, who has been our ally and our supporter in this fight, and he just wanted to remind the important moment when he saw Eric Adams in one event in Upstate Albany, just to say hi. And just like his quote, "To get stuff done," he said to me, "I will not disappoint you. I promise you." And yes, we got to this moment. I strongly believe you, mayor.

Commissioner Mayuga: And now I would love to introduce a fierce advocate for delivery workers, all working people, not only in New York City, but across the nation, Senator Chuck Schumer.

US Senator Chuck Schumer: Well, thank you. I just got back from the parade. We had a great time. You know what I said throughout the parade. [Speaks in Spanish.]

Anyway, it's great to be here today with some of my favorite people in all of New York City and that's the deliveristas. As you know, I've worked with the deliveristas on so many issues over the past years. I'm deeply moved by their passion and by their ability. It's rare you have an organization that is both passionate but really smart about how to get things done, but the deliveristas combine both. We're celebrating one more large victory in that fight, the first minimum pay standard for tens of thousands of delivery workers across New York City.

We're here today for a couple of reasons. First and foremost is just the tireless organizing of the workers. I've been with them from the beginning when no one would recognize them and they never gave up. They're beautiful people. They care. They're the American dream, hardworking people, didn't come here with much but they worked so hard to just try and build a little bit of a better life for themselves and for their families.

I rode the bike with some of them. I went on a few deliverista routes. Let me tell you, it's not so easy with all the cars darting in and out and so much else going on. Of course, the big companies, they don't care if they're telling them to go three miles and get there in 20 minutes. It's really a tough job.

But they did a great job and they never gave up. They always had that faith. The movement that they put together is one of the most exciting and extraordinary examples of new labor organizing anywhere in the country. Because we have to organize people who have never been organized before and it's very important to do that and this was one of those instances. The deliveristas formed unity across many languages and culture and now there's hope on the streets. Hope on the streets because of what they have done. I want to thank Ligia. Where'd you go?

Commissioner Mayuga: Right here.

US Senator Schumer: There you are, yes. And the Workers Justice Project, Gustavo and Manny Ramirez. My buddy. And all of the workers across the city.

Second is Mayor Adams, his whole team, and the great folks at DCWP. This is a mayor who's committed to working people. He knows what it's like. He struggled in his life and so he has an innate feel for when people struggle. But he also has some power to get something done about it and he doesn't shy away from using that power. He's lived their struggles. He grew up in a family and community that knew, like mine. We knew how much a little extra money meant. It's not nothing when you don't have much. It's a lot. Some people might say, "Ah, this isn't that much." Live the life and then say it's not much. He knows in his heart, the mayor does, the joy and relief that thousands of families from Sunset Park to Jackson Heights to everywhere in between or having.

I've been proud to be a part of this. My team and Adam's team worked closely together for months and it's been great collaborating with him and his team to make this a reality. He has led the charge and I have his back. He is truly the get-stuff-done Mayor.

Third, I want to thank many lawmakers who are here. I see Marjorie, I see Carlina just came in, Gale, who's always here. Did I miss any of the elected officials? I don't think so. Okay, well all right. Thank them for being here because they've been great allies in the council to make this happen.

Here we have it, the combination of first, the passion and strength and never say die of emotions of the deliveristas. Second, a great mayor who cares. And third, other elected officials who stood in. So congratulations. [Speaks in Spanish.]

Mayor Adams: Thanks. Thanks so much, Senator. Just fighting on behalf from Washington for us. Just continue to deliver. Talk about delivering, you just continue to deliver for the city of New York and the state of New York. We'll do a few on topic questions.

Question: Okay. Hi, Mr. Mayor. Can you explain how this will be enforced?

Mayor Adams: Enforced as in the…

Question: How you will ensure that the apps abide by these new rates?

Commissioner Mayuga: The rule goes into effect July 12th and part of the rule has requirements for the applications to submit records regularly to our agency. That's how we are going to be checking on compliance. And certainly, all of the delivery workers, they are going to let us know as well if there's any concerns, anything they're observing so that we can be also taking action.

Mayor Adams: As any other protections that are in place, if someone is not receiving their minimum pay, those are still in place here. There will clearly be a way to report that. You have an amazing organizing team here, if they receive complaints. We have the human rights agency as well, so the same processes as any worker in the city that's not receiving their pay, that avenue is open for this body of workers also.

Question: Question, sorry. Does the rule allow the companies to only pay by hour? Or will they also have the ability to pay on a minute-by-minute rate and how will that work, if so?

Mayor Adams: You should stay up here. You know that?

Commissioner Mayuga: The rule offers options. There's two options. The apps can pay by hour for all of the trip time or they can also pay for connected time, which will be a per minute time.

Question: What's the per minute rate?

Commissioner Mayuga: It would start at about 50 cents and it will go up to at least 55 cents.

Question: Has there been any more communication with the apps about providing e-bikes or batteries in light of the fires?

Mayor Adams: Yeah, and I think that that is really in alignment with what the senator has stated, that this new industry… I mean, this is a new industry that's materializing before our eyes here in New York City.

There are several items that we have been working on together, the conversion of newsstands, which is a real win. We're pushing forward. The batteries. We know the e-bikes' batteries have created a real challenge, particularly those batteries that don't pass proper certification. We are going to do what we can do on the governmental end, but we also are in communications with the delivery app companies to play a role as well. We want the tools that are being used to be safe and we don't want unsafe equipment. We're still in negotiation conversations, but we are taking our steps as well.


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