Tech workers boycott DoorDash until it pays drivers better

For the past few years, the worker movement has been driven by engineers at giants like Google and Facebook. They have lent support to working-class colleagues, like contract driver, housekeeping, and food service staff. But solidarity between the white collar (perhaps hoodie-collar) and blue collar may be growing as contractors at gig companies like Instacart and DoorDash organize to demand a minimum livable wage.

In the wake of Instacart winning some concessions and growing frustration among their gig-working peers at DoorDash, over 100 veteran and newer tech worker activists are pledging not to apply for technical roles at DoorDash unless the company pays its delivery people better. (We reached out to DoorDash for comment but had not heard back by press time.)

“Silicon Valley investors clearly don't care that DoorDash cheats drivers,” reads the open letter posted on Medium, noting that the company recently raised $400 million in a new funding round. “However, investors do care that their startups can hire the best tech talent to help them execute on their mission.”

The demands match those of Instacart who are now organizing a national movement (with the goal of expanding to DoorDash, Amazon, and other companies). They are:

  • A pay floor of $15 per hour, after subtracting expenses such as mileage and extra employment taxes that independent contractors pay (an additional 7.56% of income).
  • Don't count tips towards pay, but add them on top. (DoorDash aims to uses tips to cover nearly all of the fee quoted for a job. Here's an explanation.)
  • Provide more transparency on how pay breaks down. (For instance, DoorDash drivers don't know the amount of the pre-selected tip until after the job.)

“I think it's a big bomb they just dropped,” said Alex, a DoorDash driver in Arizona, about the petition. (He asked that we not publish his last name for fear of retribution.)

The petition was organized by Dropbox software engineer Anna Geiduschek, who last month tweeted her response to a recruitment overture from DoorDash co-founder and CTO Andy Fang (who is also her former classmate).

“[I said] that I would not work for you and for a company that would treat its workers in this way especially one that wouldn't even back down once they were exposed for doing this,” says Geiduschek. She ended her tweet with #TechWontBuildIt, a hashtag that represents a growing boycott movement both within and outside tech companies. “I actually did [something similar] once before with Amazon over the summer.”

The over hundred others who have signed the letter include prominent leaders of past and ongoing tech worker campaigns, such as current and former Google staffers Amr Gaber, Jack Poulson, Meredith Whittaker, and Stephanie Parker. Geiduschek says that no DoorDash engineers have reached out to her so far.

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