What Next

The Plight of the Delivery Worker

New York City depended on them to get through the pandemic; why are they struggling to survive?

Illustration depicting a female with a microphone

Listen longer

Slate Plus members get ad-free versions of all Slate podcasts, plus extra segments, bonus episodes, and more. Try it today for just $1.

Join Slate Plus

Episode Notes

In the last few years and particularly during the pandemic, New York City’s delivery workers have become a key part of the food industry’s infrastructure, allowing restaurants to do business with customers too stressed to leave their desks or too afraid of catching a dangerous virus to show up themselves. But a growing incidence of violent attacks and bike thefts has laid bare just how vulnerable the people who bring you your takeout are. Why is it that such essential workers have been exploited by the apps that rely on them, abandoned by the police and the city, and forced to band together just to get by?

Guest: Josh Dzieza, an investigations editor and feature writer at The Verge covering technology, business, and climate change.

If you enjoy this show, please consider signing up for Slate Plus. Slate Plus members get benefits like zero ads on any Slate podcast, bonus episodes of shows like Slow Burn and Dear Prudence—and you’ll be supporting the work we do here on What Next. Sign up now at slate.com/whatnextplus to help support our work.

Podcast production by Mary Wilson, Davis Land, Danielle Hewitt, Elena Schwartz, and Carmel Delshad.


About the Show

The problem with the news right now? It’s everywhere. And each day, it can feel like we’re all just mindlessly scrolling. It’s why we created What Next. This short daily show is here to help you make sense of things. When the news feels overwhelming, we’re here to help you answer: What next? Look for new episodes every weekday morning.

All episodes


  • Mary Harris is the host and managing editor of What Next, Slate's new daily news podcast. She has reported throughout the public radio system, for NPR, Marketplace, and WNYC.