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Sunday, January 23, 2022

One way to thank delivery workers? Let them use the bathroom (seriously)

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East Village Councilmember Carlina Rivera sponsored the specific bathroom bill, with a handful of City Council members (including Carlos Menchaca, Justin Brannan, Margaret Chin, and Brad Lander) introducing the bill package on Thursday. The package focuses on dignity and protections for delivery workers and aims to establish accountability and standards for the delivery apps that have boomed during the pandemic. Some measures include allowing delivery workers to establish maximum delivery distances without penalty, requiring apps to provide workers with free insulated delivery bags for work, requiring apps to pay workers at least once per week, and giving workers who don’t use banks a non-banking payment option, as reported by Gothamist

Delivery work is far from easy, even outside of an increased desire during the pandemic, and especially those who are cyclists and not drivers, are literally vulnerable while on the job. Imagine this: You have to get the right order from the right restaurant and get the food to the right person going the most efficient route possible. You have to watch out for people and animals and cars. You have to watch out for other delivery people. You have to make sure you don’t spill or lose or drop or mix up the orders. You can’t be late. All of that, and you have to stress about where you’ll be able to use a restroom. Frankly, that’s obscene.

In the big picture, bathroom access is an ongoing issue across the country. People—including workers and unhoused people who do not have their own bathrooms at home—deserve access to safe, clean restrooms. It is better for everyone’s health and everyone’s dignity. Sure, small business owners don’t want loads of people who aren’t customers filling bathrooms while diners wait. But people also don’t want to walk down the street and see people relieving themselves in alleys or bushes. It’s easy to say that’s a gross image—and it is—but relieving oneself is literally a human function no one can avoid. In fact, putting it off can result in legitimate health issues.

City and state governments absolutely need to invest in (and invest in the upkeep of) free, accessible bathrooms for people who simply can’t make a purchase in order to use a restroom. But in the meantime, delivery workers should absolutely be able to use the bathroom of the place they’re inadvertently performing labor for. It’s great for people to thank essential workers, but making sure they can use a safe, free, clean bathroom is just about the bottom of the barrel as a first actionable step. 


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