NewsCovering Kern County


DoorDash opens communication for workers

“Your boss is technically an app."
DoorDash Safety
Posted at 4:19 PM, Feb 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-03 18:11:14-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Last year, state protests around Prop 22 took place when app-based workers were ultimately designated independent contractors instead of employees, meaning the company was not required to provide things like benefits or insurance.

Now that the law has been in effect for about a year, DoorDash has created a council with 13 people from across California, including one from Kern County, to open up communication.

People are past having to get in their cars and go buying what they need. Nowadays, it is almost second nature to open up food delivery apps when shopping or when hungry.

Although most people are no longer getting in their cars and picking food up from restaurants, someone is. However, that disconnect between customers and the worker, also exists between that worker and the employee.

“Your boss is technically an app. So, who do you go to complain when something happens in the workplace?”

Pedro Ramirez with the Kern Inyo and Mono Counties Central Labor Council said workers need to have a way to be heard, and there are groups across the state trying to get input from workers for this very reason.

“I got an email from a group that is for protecting app-based drivers and I thought well okay I’ll go on there and voice my opinion, do my part,” said Gabrielle Nerio, Baker at Albertsons and DoorDash.

Nerio is a baker at a local grocery store and said he started DoorDash to make extra money on weekends or in between shifts, then for a period of time did it full time.

His story is common, a study sent out by DoorDash to its workforce found that 68% of them did DoorDash to make up for reduced hours at their normal job.

Meanwhile, Nerio's response to the group got the attention of the company.

“It was not long after that, when I got a response from the DoorDash team, and they had seen my response on the app-based group, and they wanted to invite me to the California DoorDash advisory council.”

He is now the Kern representative on DoorDash’s 13-member advisory council in California.

With that new role, he brought up the need to expand into smaller areas of Kern County and compensate for delivering out there.

“Within the last couple of months, we have expanded borders of deliveries in Inyo Kern, of course with accommodating for the extra mileage and higher pay on that.”

Ramirez said it is good to see the communication open but there is still work to do.

“You know they have the flexibility, but the flexibilities come at a cost, which is usually stable wages, stable working conditions, and benefits that come with the job.”

According to DoorDash, Prop 22 did address some of these issues like creating a healthcare stipend and occupational accident insurance, plus they have made changes coming out of the council feedback, like being able to access their wages after shifts.

Although Ramirez explained not all app workers want to be deemed full-time employees because being a contractor gives them flexibility, the labor council wants to see legislation that creates a safety net for all gig workers.

Meanwhile, Nerio said he also wants to continue advocating for better conditions for all. “I take this moving forward as something that will be a lifelong commitment.”

DoorDash said the feedback they receive from the council is taken to their legislative team working to push legislation across the state and nation.