Food delivery drivers who work for companies including DoorDash and Grubhub gathered with Uber and Lyft workers over the weekend to announce plans to join a nationwide group calling for improved working conditions, better pay, and the option to unionize. The news comes amid a sustained push for labor rights in the hospitality industry, most recently illustrated by a successful union vote this month by retail workers at famed local Third Wave coffee brand Intelligentsia Coffee.
Seven Chicago-based driver groups including Road Warriors Chicago, Illinois Independent Drivers Guild, and Latinos Unidos Uber/Lyft have joined forces to create the Illinois chapter of Justice for App Workers, bringing in 20,000 more workers to the 100,000-worker coalition founded six months ago in New York with the aim of winning rights for “app-based workers” — a broad term that encompasses drivers for a variety of Big Tech companies — across the U.S., workers proclaimed at a Sunday news conference in suburban Schiller Park. The gathering was part of a launch event called GigFest.
In Chicago, these drivers report serious concerns over the potential for violent assaults and carjackings, as well as high gas prices, a lack of regular access to sanitary bathrooms, and the ripple effects of economic inflation. These issues are reflected among their counterparts on the East Coast: a 2021 poll from Justice for App Workers found 77 percent of drivers in the tristate area struggle to cover monthly expenses for car payments, rent, and utilities. In the meantime, Chicago officials continue to move forward with twin lawsuits against DoorDash and Grubhub, alleging that both companies “engaged in deceptive practices to prey on its affiliated restaurants.”