Time to Deliver Justice to Delivery Workers

When the buzzy, Michelin-starred Greenwich Village restaurant Carbone began offering takeout and delivery last week, so many New Yorkers placed orders that the police had to arrive on two separate nights to manage the crowd gathered outside the restaurant. Images of delivery workers forced to stand well closer than six feet to one another to hear their orders being called attracted a flurry of media attention; several commentators, including the New York Times’s Frank Bruni, noted that a popular item for delivery was a $70 veal parm.

Vulnerable to accidents on the job, delivery workers have always risked life and limb for low pay and with no protection from their employers; sometimes, this is in the course of doing the important work of delivering food to those with limited mobility; sometimes, as in the case of the upscale parm, it is simply for the convenience of the privileged. Covid-19 has heightened the inequities of delivery work by adding new dangers, in the same way that it has made more visible the dangers of being homeless, in prison, or living paycheck-to-paycheck during a crisis in a society with no functioning safety net.

The New York Review of Books