Home>Feature Right>Star-Ledger editorializes in support of $15/hour wage, but pays drivers much less

1 Star-Ledger Plaza in Newark, the former home of the Star-Ledger. The building was sold in 2014. (DOUGLAS ELLIMAN REAL ESTATE PHOTO)

Star-Ledger editorializes in support of $15/hour wage, but pays drivers much less

Newspaper recruiting drivers for less than $10/hour, using their own cars and with no benefits

By David Wildstein, December 22 2018 10:51 pm

The Star-Ledger editorial board has advocated for a “Clean 15” – an increase in New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15-per-hour with no carveouts – but the company they use to deliver their newspapers pay their drivers much less than that.

The state’s largest daily newspaper ran an advertisement in Wednesday’s print edition seeking drivers for newspaper deliveries willing to work 2-3 hours daily, “starting around 3 AM,” with a typical bi-weekly compensation that starts at $400.   That could mean less than $10-per-hour.

To get a job like that, applicants must have their own cars. Star-Ledger drivers – they call them Delivery Service Providers — receive no benefits; they “are independently contacted, meaning they are self-employed” and receive 1099s.   Minimum wage laws do not apply.

There is no paid vacation time, no workers compensation, and since drivers do not handle collections, there are no gratuities involved.

“The job, once the bastion of neighborhood kids looking to make a few extra bucks on their bikes, has evolved into a grueling nocturnal marathon for low-income workers who toil almost invisibly on the edge of the economy,” wrote Associated Press reporter Michael Levenson in 2016.

The Star-Ledger contracts with a national distribution company, Publisher’s Circulation Fulfillment (PCF), for home delivery of their newspaper.

PCF settled a federal lawsuit filed by Boston Globe delivery service providers who argued that they should be considered employees and earn at least the minimum wage.  The company agreed to a $1.4 million settlement and agreed to a limited number of sick days.

A 2018 Massachusetts State Supreme Court decision upheld PCF’s claim that their drivers were not eligible for workers’ compensation when injured on the job but urged the Legislature to rewrite the state laws that carves out exceptions to independent contractor laws.

Recent Star-Ledger editorial slammed Gov. Phil Murphy and legislative leaders for delays and carveouts — they praised Amazon and Cooper University Hospital for adopting $15 minimum wages —  but did not disclose their own compensation plans for men and women who deliver their newspaper daily.

Kevin Whitmer, vice president of NJ Advance Media, did not respond to an 8:38 PM message seeking comment.

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