Bhairavi Desai lauds decision of NYC Couriers for standing up for Rights

New York City – The New York Messengers Alliance, a grass-roots labor organization lead by veteran and new bike messengers and walkers announced its formation and the launch of a Worker Safety Campaign, calling on courier companies including Uber, Postmates, DoorDash, and Caviar to pay for safety equipment and provide Workers Compensation for injured workers.  The messengers have been regularly meeting, strategizing, organizing to be the voice for 10,000 workers who labor the streets in the country’s biggest courier market.

Couriers, including bike messengers and walkers, work in all weather and in constant risk of injury. Couriers work for services such as UberRUSH and UberEATS, with no guaranteed minimum wage or paid sick leave, and few on-the-job protections.

“Uber messengers are treated the same as Uber drivers: misclassified as independent contractors, subject to poverty rates, constant wage cuts, firings, long hours, no paid time off, with the added fight of proving employee status when challenging the exploitation,” said Bhairavi Desai, President of the National Taxi Workers Alliance and Executive Director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. “Uber messengers and drivers and the overall messenger and driver workforces are in a historic struggle to protect their full-time pay and stop the race to the bottom, battling a Wall Street darling valuated at over $60 billion. Like drivers, messengers – also mostly people of color and immigrants – are at a historic juncture. And with the New York Messengers Alliance, they choose to organize and fight and challenge an exploitative business model, not concede to its makers.”

NYMA is the first non-driver affiliate of the National Taxi Workers Alliance.  NYTWA and NYMA will jointly organize Uber Workers Rising, a campaign of Uber Drivers and Messengers, in solidarity with all drivers and messengers, to challenge Uber’s business model of part-time-only, poverty wages work cemented by misclassification.

“Over the summer I fractured my ankle on the job but I had to keep working, pedaling with one foot because I didn’t have any way to buy food if I took time off,” said Sadio Ballo, New York Messengers Alliance Executive Committee Member and 16-year bike messenger who formerly worked for Uber. “We are forming the New York Messengers Alliance to build our collective strength to improve the appalling conditions that couriers work under. Every day, messengers struggle to get by in this great city without decent wages and without employer-paid medical coverage if we get injured on the job. Over the past few years, app-based companies like Uber have lowered the standards, making our jobs even harder and pushing us to the breaking point. Since Uber cut our rates, we find ourselves working 12 to 16 hour shifts on our bicycles or on our feet the entire time, often making less than minimum wage for our work. We will no longer accept being taken advantage of by these billion-dollar companies. Together, we are standing up and fighting back.”

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