“Amber” doesn’t know how many of her fellow Postmates couriers are taking part in the #GuacOff, the national PayUp campaign that has Postmates workers rejecting all Chipotle orders from Wednesday through Friday.
Requesting to remain anonymous for fear of backlash or retaliation from her employers, Amber told San Jose Inside that Postmates needs to be held accountable for how they treat their couriers.
The #GuacOff campaign is the latest national initiative supporting gig workers and their fight for equitable pay as they play an increasingly important role in the economy.
A San Jose resident and single mom with sons aged 9 and 14, Amber began working as a contractor for Postmates, Instacart and Doordash to supplement her income after being furloughed from her full-time job as Jenny Craig consultant due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Sheltering in place has wreaked havoc for Amber’s family and many others.
“I’m just trying to make ends meet by doing gig work, so I'm in panic mode," Amber said in a phone interview. “What makes things tougher, is gig workers were not allowed to file for unemployment until [recently].”
The PayUp campaign and food-service couriers established the #GuacOff campaign, demanding three essential things from Postmates: 14 days of paid sick leave, hazard pay and personal protective equipment.
Postmates refused a phone interview request, but did respond via email detailing how the company offers childcare, sick leave and protective gear through their Fleet Relief Fund.
However, Amber and Emily Dhatt—a digital organizer for PayUp—said those claims are simply misleading, especially in regards to sick leave.
“We’ve talked with several Postmates workers who have tried, but we haven’t been able to find a way for them to access sick pay," Dhatt said. “Postmates sort of designed it to be incredibly difficult to get that type of access.”
Since Postmates works with hundreds of South Bay restaurants and eateries, why did the contractors and PayUp choose to boycott Chipotle deliveries for three days?
Amber and Dhatt said Chipotle has teamed up to advertise free delivery while also being notorious for batch deliveries, meaning drivers are delivering more food for less money. “So if I’m picking up two orders from Chipotle, that second delivery is getting me [strictly] $2.75,” Amber explained.
Drivers make anywhere from $2.75 to $8 a delivery, but the average delivery takes 20 minutes, Dhatt said. Amber said she’s lucky to complete three deliveries in an hour.
Postmates and Chipotle are currently offering free delivery to customers, and the workers making the deliveries seemingly suffer a double whammy in that customers don’t often tip in those situations and the workers aren’t provided PPEs, Amber said.
Dhatt said only a handful of Postmates workers they’ve spoken to have received personal protective gear, and it usually comes in the form of two single-use face masks.
April Conyers, the senior director of communications at Postmates, said in an email that the company “has issued hundreds of thousands of new reusable and single-use masks for couriers across the country.”
Conyers also noted how Postmates was the first to launch non-contact deliveries, the average courier earns about $25 an hour and it launched the industry’s first-ever on-demand family care relief policy for workers.
Couriers also make just 7 cents per minute for idle time, or when they are waiting to pick up the order from a restaurant. “That adds up to $4.20 an hour, which is well below the minimum wage standard,” Amber said.
Amber and Dhatt said the math simply doesn’t add up for a courier to make $25 an hour, especially when one considers that the workers have to pay for their own mileage.
“What they’re factoring in is the tip, which should be on top of what workers are paid,” Dhatt said. “They don’t take into account the amount of time they’re driving. If you’re making $3 a delivery, and you’re doing on average three deliveries an hour, it’s really not possible that adds up to $25 an hour.”
San Jose resident Eddie Ortiz worked for Postmates as recently as 2019 and said earnings “get eaten up by gas [fees], so if you don’t do well, or don’t have a fuel economy car or both, you end up breaking even on some days. … So the irony is it’s almost like minimum wage for the majority.”