Food delivery workers are an essential part of the services chain that keeps New York City on movement. During the first months of the pandemic, most of them were still active while risking their lives being exposed to elevators, buildings, or restaurants picking up or delivering packages for others.
For Latino workers, this precarious type of employment only increases the fear of standing up for demanding better social protection due to the risk of being detained by ICE agents based on their migratory status.
In the meantime, they are still out there delivering our food while the city is facing a probable second lockdown.
Los repartidores de comida en Nueva York son parte esencial de la cadena de servicios que han mantenido a la ciudad en movimiento. Durante los primeros meses de la pandemia, ellos siguieron activos, muchos arriesgando sus vidas al exponerse en ascensores, pasillos, calles o restaurantes recogiendo y entregando paquetes.
Las situaciones laborales precarias y el miedo por ser detenidos al exigir condiciones laborales dignas, por su condición migratoria, los obliga a seguir trabajando en la calle mientras la ciudad sigue encerrada.
A woman walks over to an almost empty WTC PATCH train station, in Manhattan. During the first days of the pandemic, the governor of the State of New York, Andrew Cuomo, declared a state of emergency, paralyzing the biggest city in the United States.
Jaciel, a Mexican citizen living in NY for over 11 years, works as a food delivery biker for restaurants and third parties apps. He has not stopped working since the beginning of the pandemic, to support his family of four.
Jaciel delivers a package with food to a client in a Downtown Manhattan apartment. Alongside medical staff and transportation workers, the food industry is also considered as a first necessity activity, but the precarious conditions given by the delivery apps companies don´t provide even minimal protection, equipment or social security in case he gets sick or gets involved in an accident.
A portrait of one of Jaciel's kids with a note of support. While the entire city was locked down for the pandemic, Jaciel worked from 8 to 10 hours every day, exposed to the risk of bringing the virus home. He explains in an interview that: 'the hardest part of all this is not being able to hug or touch my kids, because I'm afraid'.
Jaciel waits for towels and clean clothes while he is about to shower after a day of work, in his one-bedroom apartment in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Only after disinfecting his equipment and clothes, he's able to see his kids that are waiting to go to bed after he's done at work.
Jaciel biking over an empty Midtown Manhattan intersection during the lockdown in New York. He explains in an interview: 'For me as a cyclist, being able to use the city this empty, felt like a privilege, almost like in a videogame.'.
View of the interior of a restaurant in Downtown Manhattan. The food industry, during the first months of the pandemic, has survived basically only by deliveries, revealing the unequally and unprotection towards the food delivery workers, many of them undocumented.
Carlos, an Uruguayan food delivery worker, entering a building in Wall Street, Manhattan. Carlos lives as an illegal immigrant in the state of New Jersey and commutes every day to work for an Italian restaurant, with almost zero protection either from the restaurant or the mobile food apps.
Interior view from an empty Fulton Station in Manhattan, that on a normal basis would serve about 300.000 users a day.