Gig Workers Share How Little They Earn for Delivery in Minimum Wage Protest

Gig workers for services like DoorDash, Instacart and Uber revealed how little they make per delivery in a protest seeking an ordinance providing gig workers with a fairer minimum wage.

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For the Wednesday protest, workers in Seattle, Washington, attached receipts to 400 paper bags. The receipts showed the amount of money they made per delivery and the bags bore the logos of different gig work delivery companies.

One receipt on a bag with an Instacart logo showed that the driver made $8.19 for the delivery. Another on a bag with a DoorDash logo showed that the driver made just 76 cents. Another DoorDash receipt said that the driver actually lost $1.87 making the delivery.

Delivery driver gig workers revealed how little they make per delivery in a minimum wage protest in Seattle, Washington. Above, a food worker unloads meals donated by a restaurant company for delivery to people in need during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty

The protesters are asking the Seattle city council to pass a “Pay Up” ordinance that would provide local laborers with a dependable minimum wage as well as other guaranteed rights. The rights would include paid expenses, access to business restrooms, anti-discrimination protections and transparency around payments for laborers working for any of 250 online or app-based delivery services.

The minimum wage would be calculated per minute, with money provided both for the amount of time a worker spends acquiring a customer’s items and the mileage drivers cover while completing each delivery.

While gig work businesses usually charge customers and pay drivers per delivery, the payments usually don’t cover all the time and costs associated with the work. As freelance contractors, the money doesn’t cover taxes, healthcare or other costs such as gasoline, car payments and auto repairs needed to keep vehicles operational.

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For example, Michelle Balzer, an InstaCart shopper, told The Stranger newspaper in Seattle that she was paid $10.23 for a delivery job that took over an hour. The delivery required a 40-minute roundtrip drive, finding 58 items in a grocery store, then waiting up to 45 minutes in a checkout line during the grocery store’s peak hours.

An estimated 8 percent of U.S. workers earn regular money in the gig economy, according to a 2016 study by the Pew Research Center. Of those, 56 percent considered the income they earned essential or important.

Over the course of a year, delivery drivers for companies like Uber Eats, GrubHub, Seamless, DoorDash and PostMates make anywhere from $20,800 to $41,538, depending on the company and the available orders, according to USA Today. This calculates to $1,733 and $3,461 per month.

A one-bedroom apartment in Seattle costs $1,659 on average, according to the financial website Smart Asset.

Newsweek contacted Uber Eats, GrubHub, Seamless, DoorDash, Instacart and PostMates for comment.

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