WASHINGTON - Food delivery companies grew in both size and power over the pandemic but now, some D.C. restaurant owners say they need help. They’re pleading with the D.C. Council to reign in the fees they’re charged by delivery apps like DoorDash, GrubHub and UberEats.
The Workers and Restaurants are Priorities Act — called the WRAP Act — deals with the power food delivery companies have over restaurants. The council is holding a hearing on the legislation. It started at 10 a.m. Thursday and is expected to go into the evening as nearly 100 people have signed up to speak.
If approved, the act would block food delivery companies from diminishing or limiting restaurant profiles on their apps if owners just sign up for the basic, lowest-cost delivery plan.
One restaurant owner described a "pay or play" choice for restaurant owners. DoorDash said it provides a service and their fees are fair.
"They have effectively manipulated discoverability and delivery radius to pressure restaurants into accepting what we would consider exorbitant rates. It’s important to know customers using these platforms to discover and search for various restaurants available," said Sandra Basanti, who runs DC Pie Shop.
The bill’s sponsor, Councilman Kenyan McDuffie, says the bill goes beyond fees and looks at delivery driver job conditions. The legislation would require a study of workers in the industry and tell restaurants to let drivers use their restrooms.
The councilman says the result would level the playing field between restaurants and delivery apps.
"The bill is not perfect as drafted and I’ll admit that. But rarely is any ever perfect as a initially drafted that’s why we’re working through this legislative process as we are doing with this hearing today," McDuffie said.
"The basic question that we all must answer is do we want to end this discriminatory state of play now and get more money into the hands of workers faster or not?" the councilman added.
In response to the hearing, DoorDash released a study claiming the company it’s created $235 million in economic impact and over 3,000 jobs. And in its 2022 Economic Impact Report, the company said that the DoorDash community supported an estimated $78 billion in economic activity in the U.S. and $15.7 billion in tax revenues.
"The measure before the Council seeks to further regulate delivery service for restaurants but the council must be sure that the unintended consequences for customers, restaurants and Dashers alike," said Chad Horrell who works for DoorDash.
This bill has a long way to go before it’s delivered. It would need to pass out of committee and be voted on by the full council.