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Given all the controversies surrounding classification of workers and listing restaurants that hadn’t consented to service, a worker-owned co-op called Candlestick Courier Collective from San Francisco are reportedly hoping to change the reliance on “necessary-evil” food delivery apps.
Based in the city’s Tenderloin District, where old-school bike messengers run the show, they’re “owned and operated by our professional cyclists, we strive to provide better, faster, more affordable service than our corporate counterparts,” according to their website. They claim to offer fast, direct on-demand delivery for local businesses including daily personal food orders and large catering orders for restaurants, as well as parcel, document, plant, and wholesale coffee delivery for the office and home.
As reported by KQED, Candlestick Courier Collective mainly operates as an anarchist collective — with four owner-workers and a network of some 60 independent bike messengers. The goal is for its independent messengers to have a share of ownership in the business. This is in direct contrast to current food delivery gigs run by apps like Grubhub and DoorDash, which don’t give its couriers basic employee benefits such as a guaranteed minimum wage, overtime pay, workers’ compensation, nor unemployment insurance.
The collective’s clients are all local small businesses, and food ordered from them is delivered by a Candlestick Courier, not a gig worker from one of the big app services. Tasha Rose, one of the four owner-workers, told KQED: “We are working with local businesses and only local businesses because the whole goal is to put the money back into our pockets, back into restaurant pockets, back into the community.”
Pierce McCleary, another worker-owner at CCC expressed his disappointment over California voting to pass Proposition 22 tp KQED. He said this will give the big app services an unfair advantage against businesses like his that are trying to offer employee status to workers, let alone a shared-ownership co-op model. Together with the ridesharing apps, food delivery companies dropped more than $181 million into the Yes on 22 campaign, making it one of the biggest-ticket California initiatives ever.
As pointed out by Entrepreneur, food delivery had been growing prior to the pandemic, but has expanded exponentially in the past year as customers have shifted to online shopping for food in order to limit their risk of exposure to disease. From 2014 to 2016, digital ordering and delivery grew 300% faster than dine-in traffic.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, food delivery apps have become more important for both business owners and their customers as more people order takeout and groceries in order to safely shelter in place. Reportedly, DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub, and Postmates raked in roughly $5.5 billion in combined revenue from April through September, more than twice as much as their combined $2.5 billion in revenue during the same period last year. DoorDash is the country’s industry leader with 50% market share, and the next biggest players: a combined Uber Eats and Postmates, then Grubhub.
Ben Angel, owner of the New Harmony Cafe in San Francisco’s Mission District, told KQED it felt right to work with a collective rather than a delivery app that uses gig workers. “It’s a groundswell from the community instead, as opposed to, you know, a venture-funded, hyper-growth, ‘Let’s extract as much from the people and the companies that are our clients and customers.’”
If you live in San Francisco, or are in town for a visit, you can get food or other items delivered by downloading their app. And if you run a small business and would rather work with someone local instead of the delivery apps, Candlestick Courier Collective is open to partnerships.