Efren has been a delivery worker since the pandemic started — basically since he lost his job in a restaurant in Midtown.
What You Need To Know
- Brad Lander and Corey Johnson are running for comptroller
- Their time in the City Council is now under scrutiny as they both seek the same office
- Lander is accusing the Council speaker of punishing him for voting against last year's budget
Now, he’s a delivery worker for hire and a member of Los Deliveristas Unidos — a group trying to organize these workers.
“This is how I support my family,” Efren said. We are not disclosing his last name for fear he'll face retribution.
We were standing outside of a Chipotle in Upper Manhattan, waiting for two orders. He was already 20 minutes late to drop them off — the kitchen's fault, not his. As each minute ticked by, you could practically feel that tip gradually decrease.
"When I get sick, nobody care,” Efren said. "Sometimes I work six or seven days over here to try to get some food to home.”
As a delivery worker — biking for apps to get people food fast — he does not have paid sick leave.
“They were supposed to pass this already into law, but they never do it,” Efren said. "They just keep talking and talking. A lot of people getting sick over here.”
Last year, Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander tried to change that.
He introduced legislation to expand the city’s sick leave law to include workers like Efren: Gig workers like for-hire vehicle drivers or nail salon workers — and delivery workers.
Last year, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson expressed support for protecting workers like these during a town hall with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. The speaker announced a whole package of legislation the Council was planning to consider in the spring of 2020. Those bills targeted increasing benefits for essential workers during the pandemic — workers like Efren.
But now, that bill isn’t moving.
“It was all set to pass in May,” said Lander. "Then, the Council had our budget vote and then I believe the speaker is playing politics with peoples' lives.
Lander is blaming Johnson. Both of them are running to be the next city comptroller. It appears Lander is now using his legislation as a political weapon.
He is claiming his vote against the city budget last year is the reason his bill has not progressed.
“The speaker is punishing 140,000 essential workers who need paid sick leave because of my budget vote last June,” Lander said.
Johnson’s office categorically denied Lander was being punished.
A spokesperson pointed to other legislative victories in the past year for Lander — like prohibiting fast food companies from firing workers without just cause.
In a statement, Jennifer Fermino, the speaker’s spokesperson, said: “This is a baseless allegation by a member who has shown an inability to work with his colleagues past or present. Speaker Johnson’s priority as speaker has always been working with members to accomplish what’s best for the city.”
Some sources told NY1 the gig worker sick leave bill does not have enough support in the Council to move forward.
Johnson wouldn’t speak to us on camera, but a supporter and ally in the Council said Lander’s accusation about the speaker did not ring true to her.
“I’ve never experienced him as vindictive,” said Manhattan Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal. "I guess I don’t look at the world that way.”