Because her hours were cut due to the pandemic, to make ends meet, she had to start working for multiple delivery-app companies — Uber Eats, Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates and Instacart. As a crew member — even full time — she was not eligible for health insurance benefits. And as a worker for delivery apps who is designated as a contractor, she also does not have access to other basic benefits.
“I feel that I get disrespected. There’s no dignity and no pride,” Townsend said in a phone interview. “I feel if I work for a billion-dollar corporation, there is no way that, as your worker, you cannot tell me that you can’t help me.”
‘The canary in the coal mine’
Pushed by the racial reckoning across the country and a clarion call to reverse racial inequalities, many corporations and other businesses swiftly issued public statements in support of the Black Lives Movement. They also flooded racial justice organizations with donations.
Many businesses, which included the nation’s biggest companies and financial institutions, such as Amazon, Walmart, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Nike, committed to rethinking their hiring practices, increasing diversity and implementing racial bias training, among other pledges.
Wilson, the economics expert, said that while it is too early in the recovery to draw conclusions, the immediate data suggest that the widespread diversity pledges have not inspired a sea change.
“Maybe some employers, industries are being more mindful of this, but it’s not showing up in our aggregate numbers,” she said.
Ash Girtley, 30, a worker at Peet’s Coffee in Chicago, worked full time before the pandemic, but she is down to 14 hours a week. She was furloughed at the onset of the pandemic, and she exhausted her sick and vacation pay as a result.
“It’s really tough out here right now,” Girtley, who also protested over the summer, said in a phone interview. “I sell dinners on my downtime, because that’s how I get by. That’s how I survive, how I feed my family.”
Despite a decrease in in-person coffee sales, the chain reported profits this summer in part because they were able to save cash through widespread furloughs and temporary layoffs.
“It pisses me off,” she said. “It makes me angry, because Peet’s donated money to Black Lives Matter and the ACLU and the NAACP, but I feel like it was a direct slap in the face, because most of your workers that work at the location that I work in are Black, or we are people of color.”