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The Death of a delivery worker Francisco Villalva Vitinio reiterated the lack of protection and rights that gig workers have in the US during an armed robbery in East Harlem earlier this week
On Monday night, just after 11 p.m., Vitinio, 29, took a break at East Harlem’s Poor Richard’s Playground on East 108th Street and Third Avenue, supposedly between deliveries for DoorDash. While Vitinio was sitting on a park bench for something to eat, he was reportedly approached by a man with a gun who asked for his e-bike to be handed over. When Vitinio refused, the man shot him in the chest and fled the scene. according to Police and friends of Vitinio. Medics took him to the nearby Mount Sinai Hospital, but they couldn’t save him.
Vitinio’s death comes amid a massive boom in the event of e-bike robberies during the pandemic. Delivery workers paying up to $ 2,000 for each of these motorcycles are the primary targets of these heists. According to the police, the theft of e-bikes rose from 166 in 2019 to 328 in 2020 .
But the rise in robberies is only part of the problem, say delivery workers. According to proponents, Vitinio’s death is another example of third-party delivery companies like DoorDash causing their delivery workers to fail. Mario Estrada, Vitinio’s cousin, told Gothamist that his cousin was making supplies for the company at the time of his death. Family members have shared screenshots of Vitinios DoorDash p with Gothamist showing a breach of the contract notice because they missed a delivery that DoorDash sent him just over an hour before he died. A DoorDash spokesman told Gothamist that Vitinio was not making a delivery for DoorDash at the time of his death.
In a statement to Eater, a Doordash spokeswoman said: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of Mr. Vitinio and our thoughts go out to his family, friends and loved ones. This is a horrific, pointless crime and we sincerely hope that law enforcement will bring the perpetrator to justice. We have reached out to Mr. Vitinio’s family to offer our assistance and will assist law enforcement as best we can. „
Still, as Estrada Gothamist said, delivery workers bear the brunt of the cost of keeping their delivery operations up and running. In addition to paying for their own bicycles, employees also have to pay Hundreds of utilities like parking and charging their bikes and insulated backpacks for eating while working 12-hour days and making an average of between $ 300 and $ 800 a week. Worker’s bicycles are not insured with delivery companies, making the risk of theft all the more worrying for delivery workers.
„We do this work without protection,” said Estrada Gothamist. „Ultimately, it’s DoorDash who gets all the money while we take the risk on the road.” Delivery companies saw great gains During the pandemic, people stayed at home and both diners and restaurants increasingly relied on third-party supplies. Yet almost none of these gains have passed to workers. Indeed, their job has gotten much more dangerous during the pandemic. Aside from the added health risk of potentially exposure to COVID-19, delivery drivers do not receive any health care or a minimum wage.
The majority of NYC delivery workers are also undocumented, meaning they do not have access to unemployment benefits, leaving them with no choice but to turn to the delivery work. Delivery companies like DoorDash, UberEats and Grubhub say they offered their drivers additional benefits during the pandemic, including disinfectants, masks, gloves, access to telemedicine advisories and sick leave for workers infected with the virus. These companies have also come under fire for their tipping policies and reportedly have changed them As a result, there are still some delivery workers that spoke with the Last year they said they didn’t get all of the tips and often don’t make the estimated $ 22 an hour that delivery companies say their employees make.
In response, a lot of delivery people have been getting organized in NYC over the past few months, in particular The United Deliveristas, a group that calls for fair wages, guaranteed access to bathrooms during working hours, and shelter during the cold months. Vitiano’s death is now the second death by a grocery supplier in the United States in recent weeks. Two teenagers in Washington DC were charged the murder and carjacking of an Uber Eats driver there last month. In February of this year, the children of a San Francisco DoorDash delivery worker were kidnapped in his car while getting out for a delivery. A controversial measure, Prop 22, has been proven by California voters last year allowing delivery companies to continue to classify their employees as independent contractors. Even if companies don’t have to pay additional costs like paying for services, many delivery drivers claim that their salary has actually decreased existed since the measure in California.
With crimes against delivery workers on the rise, gig workers continue to organize to raise awareness of ongoing concerns. According to a GoFundMe The site was set up to cover Vitinio’s funeral expenses. His relatives say Vitinio moved from Xalpatlahua, Mexico to New York a decade ago and worked directly with restaurants as a delivery worker before losing his job during the pandemic. He reached out to third parties to further support his family in Mexico. Los Deliveristas Unidos holds a vigil today at 5 p.m. for Vitinio.