The Doordash kidnapping proves that working for the delivery service is bad
Gig workers have it hard. There’s no regular income, no minimum wage, no promise of a safety net. This is true for people working for delivery apps, such as Doordash. The delivery service app just had a Super Bowl commercial and made its co-founder a billionaire. Meanwhile, the workers for the app, who actually make it work, are struggling to figure out how to care for their children.
This took a horrifying turn for one man working for Doordash to find his children, who were in his van, kidnapped while he hopped out to make a delivery. Why did Jeffrey Fang have his children, ages 4 & 1, with him? He doesn’t make enough money to get them childcare while he works the evening delivery hours working for Doordash. Let’s go into why Doordash doesn’t treat their workers well.
San Francisco resident, Jeffrey Fang left his silver Honda Odyssey van parked on the street at 8:47 pm on Saturday, Feb. 6, with the motor running while he made a delivery. Someone, seeing the running car, decided to steal it, not realizing that the car theft was about to turn into a kidnapping. Things moved quickly with an Amber Alert issued and street-by-street sweep by the SFPD.
Thankfully, Fang’s children were found safe in the Bayview area of San Francisco at 1 am on Sunday. Both children were taken to a hospital and checked over, given the all clear. When people asked why, exactly, Fang had his kids in the car? The gig worker said that working for Doordash doesn’t give him enough money to afford childcare with his kids, which is why they were with him while he made deliveries.
Fang also told the kidnapper, who remains at large, that his children were in the car as the perpetrator drove away. His kids? They didn’t know what was going on at all as they only spoke Mandarin. So this kidnapper, who is literally a garbage human being, terrified a literal toddler and infant who didn’t even understand English. Here’s hoping that this kidnapper is found and brought to justice.
Doordash workers can’t afford childcare?
While Doordash’s co-founder, Tony Xu, is a newly minted billionaire, these gig economy workers are struggling to keep afloat in any way they can. Fang said, “As a gig economy worker, the money stops the minute you stop working, and the pay is already low enough as it is. You’re not obligated to work more than you want, but in order to make ends meet, there are only certain hours good enough for you to really be out there.”
Doordash has a history of this. The company was one of the biggest backers of Prop 22, which denies gig workers such things like minimum wage, paid time off, and unemployment benefits. Instead, it offers people working for Doordash a “minimum earnings guarantee” of 120 percent of the pickup location’s minimum wage during the active time on the platform from time on a delivery starting from accepting it.
This is not a promise of payment. Orders need to happen in order for people working for Doordash to get paid. This is why Fang has his kids in the back of the car because Doordash has people making below minimum wage for their work and they need to bring their kids because childcare is not an option.
Can things change?
California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez is working to help people working for Doordash and other companies get the same sort of protections as office workers with her legislation AB5. On the kidnapping and Fang’s plight, Gonzalez tweeted:
“Gig workers make too little to afford childcare while they work. Prop 22 allows billion-dollar corporations to deny any responsibility or have to provide any relief to workers traumatized on the job.”
Doordash said that, after the kidnapping, they provided “direct financial support” to Fang and his family, but refused to elaborate what that meant. More transparent, however, is a GoFundMe created by Fang’s friend & KQED reporter Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez to help Fang take time off work to help his family through the aftermath of his difficult time.