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Chicago’s DoorDash and Grubhub Drivers Take a Step Toward Unionizing

Plus, a Trib editor is scrutinized for asking restaurants for donations

A man in a white t-shirt speaks into a microphone.
Food delivery and rideshare drivers are joining a nationwide labor movement.
Justice for App Workers

Food delivery drivers who work for companies including DoorDash and Grubhub gathered with Uber and Lyft workers over the weekend to announce plans to join a nationwide group calling for improved working conditions, better pay, and the option to unionize. The news comes amid a sustained push for labor rights in the hospitality industry, most recently illustrated by a successful union vote this month by retail workers at famed local Third Wave coffee brand Intelligentsia Coffee.

Seven Chicago-based driver groups including Road Warriors Chicago, Illinois Independent Drivers Guild, and Latinos Unidos Uber/Lyft have joined forces to create the Illinois chapter of Justice for App Workers, bringing in 20,000 more workers to the 100,000-worker coalition founded six months ago in New York with the aim of winning rights for “app-based workers” — a broad term that encompasses drivers for a variety of Big Tech companies — across the U.S., workers proclaimed at a Sunday news conference in suburban Schiller Park. The gathering was part of a launch event called GigFest.

A group of more than 20 people holding signs with a raised fist pose together in a park.
Delivery drivers are calling for better wages and improved safety measures.
Justice for App Workers

In Chicago, these drivers report serious concerns over the potential for violent assaults and carjackings, as well as high gas prices, a lack of regular access to sanitary bathrooms, and the ripple effects of economic inflation. These issues are reflected among their counterparts on the East Coast: a 2021 poll from Justice for App Workers found 77 percent of drivers in the tristate area struggle to cover monthly expenses for car payments, rent, and utilities. In the meantime, Chicago officials continue to move forward with twin lawsuits against DoorDash and Grubhub, alleging that both companies “engaged in deceptive practices to prey on its affiliated restaurants.”

Trib dining editor regrets Instagram story

Tribune dining editor Ariel Cheung writes that she regrets using her Instagram account to solicit restaurant donations for an event. Cheung posted a disappearing Instagram story asking tips for ”a restaurant or food biz” that “would be down to donate food” for a journalism event hosted by nonprofits — the group’s name and nature of the even were omitted. Food writer Michael Nagrant, who has been outspoken about how food media needs better ethics, wrote about it, reasoning that Cheung’s request gives restaurants a way to snuggle up to the Trib. No matter the intention, that relationship could result in favorable coverage. The post gained national attention the Family Meal newsletter (“Media-restaurant relations like this are forever not a great look.”) and Food & Wine’s Nikki Miller-Ka tweeted the story.

Cheung’s the president of the Chicago chapter for Asian American Journalists Association, and the event in question involved AAJA, the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.

Social media influencers routinely DM chefs for hosted (free) meals in exchange for favorable posts. Nagrant writes that legacy media, like the Trib, needs to be better and should lead by example. Cheung sent this statement to Eater Chicago: “I erred in posting a request for food donations for a community event for nonprofit journalism organizations. While I had good intentions, I regret my error because I realize how it could be perceived. No donations were taken. The Chicago Tribune will pay for food for the event.”