A delivery driver picks up an order at a kitchen in the South of Market neighborhood. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Labor protections strengthened for delivery app workers

Peskin proposes 10 percent commission cap for companies like Uber Eats, Grubhub

Food delivery app workers will have new labor rights to protect themselves during the coronavirus pandemic under legislation unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

Under the legislation, which was introduced by Supervisor Matt Haney, app delivery companies like Uber Eats, Caviar, Gurbhub, and DoorDash must provide protective equipment to their employees making deliveries or reimburse them for the cost of the products, like gloves, masks and hand sanitizer.

The legislation also requires compensation for employee time spent cleaning vehicles or driving to hand washing facilities during their shift.

“This is a scary, challenging time for all of us, and especially for our frontline workers who are still out there making sure we all have access to food, medicine, and essential goods,” Haney said. “They need to be protected so they don’t get sick or get anyone else sick, and they should never face retaliation for it.”

It is the latest measure aimed at the delivery app companies who have also faced criticism for commission fees they charge restaurants for their serivces. Those fees can be as high as 30 percent an order.

Mayor London Breed recently issued an order capping the commission fees at 15 percent during the duration of the emergency.

But Supervisor Aaron Peskin announced legislation Tuesday with Supervisors Ahsha Safai and Rafael Mandelman that would regulate the delivery app industry beyond the emergency and impose a commission cap of 10 percent.

He noted he was working on the proposal before the pandemic but that “during the crisis, as these companies have reaped enormous amounts of revenue, they also declined calls to limit their commissions that they assess against essential restaurants and this at a time when restaurants and their staff were already struggling more than ever.”

Under Haney’s legislation that the board approved Tuesday, the companies must also offer drivers no-contact delivery options and educate employees on the most recent and effective social distancing protocols.

The legislation includes worker protections to prevent retaliation against employees exercising their rights on the proposal. And employees can make complaints to the Office of Labor Enforcement Standards, a city agency which investigates violations for labor rights.

The legislation applies to all on-demand delivery services, defined as a third-party online or mobile application that arranges for the consumer to purchase and have delivered on the same day food, medications or other goods directly from no fewer than 20 restaurants, grocery stores, drug stores and other essential businesses.

The proposal was backed by the San Francisco Labor Council.

At a board committee hearing last week labor leader Connie Ford, vice president of the San Francisco Labor Council, called the added protections “crucial for our survival.”

Regina Dick-Endrizzi, head of the Office of Small Business, also supported the proposal.

“In my conversations with the local grocers, many have put in place particular protocols for on-demand delivery shoppers and requiring the protective gear and so they have been — not always, but many times — having to provide that gear for them to allow them to shop,” she said last week. “This is important because our small businesses should not be subsidizing the protective gear for these workers.”

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association, a restaurant advocacy group, said in statement that “we are supportive of the legislation that can help keep essential workers healthy and protected.”

An Uber spokesperson said that “we have already started shipping cleaning supplies and ear-loop face masks to drivers and delivery people using Uber.”

“Around 500k masks are going to some of the hardest hit cities in the U.S., starting in NYC, with millions more on the way,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

A DoorDash spokesperson said the company has “taken numerous actions to protect” merchants, employees and customers, including distributing masks, gloves and sanitizer, and believes “these steps mean we are already largely in compliance with the ordinance.”

The company said they also have “established contactless delivery as default.”

“We are continuing to examine the newly passed ordinance to determine how it might apply to our San Francisco operations,” the spokesperson said.

As an emergency ordinance, the legislation required just one vote to approve and at least eight of 11 votes by the board.

The provisions will remain in effect for 60 days, unless extended by the board.


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