UPS Drivers Say 'Brutal' Heat Is Endangering Their Lives; Company Says Safety 'Highest Priority' [Photo]

As summers have grown hotter, high temperatures inside trucks without air conditioning have also sickened postal carriers and others who driver packages.

via: People

UPS is the largest package delivery company in the world, but its fleet of brown trucks and the warehouses where they’re loaded are almost all operating without air conditioning. Nearly all UPS workers, almost 350,000 people, are covered by a union contract. The contract is the biggest in North America and expires next year. In negotiations, ways to beat the heat will be a key issue.

“UPS hasn’t been proactive at all on the topic of heat, and that’s going to have to change,” Sean M. O’Brien, general president of the union, said to NBC. “By refusing to implement these safety measures, the company is literally sending drivers out to die in the heat.”

Nicholas Gubell a UPS driver on Long Island told the New York Times he had a dangerous run-in with heat stroke, and paramedics had to take him to the hospital. “People are dropping like flies out here,” he added. “It’s very brutal.”

In a letter addressed to Marty Urquhart, VP of Labor Relations for the Central Region of the United States Parcel Service, the Teamster’s union made some demands. The letter, dated July 27, 2022, asks for fans in every truck, cooling neck towels, water, and ice in a consistent supply. As well as uniforms that breathe better in extreme heat.

Their requests are in direct response to rising reports of heat-related incidents. As reported by NBC News, more than a dozen reports from employees and union leaders say that workers are getting sick, being hospitalized and even dying because of the heat. As a result, they’re asking for safety measures to be put in place at the highest level.

“Left and right people are falling out,” Jeff Schenfeld, a union steward in Dallas and UPS employee of 25 years told NBC News. “Something is different this year. It’s a lot more people.”

In a tweet shared by Teamsters for a Democratic Union, drivers posted pictures of thermometers inside trucks reaching 121F.

“UPS CEOs would never accept working in 120- or 130-degree offices. Drivers shouldn’t either,” the tweet said.

In a statement emailed to PEOPLE, UPS said they made plans to “support employee safety and comfort on the job” in preparation for the heat wave this summer. Their measures included “providing additional water, ice, electrolyte replacement beverages and fruits with high water content.” They also put plans in motion to distribute 260,000 new uniforms with “wicking dry-fit shirts and performance fabric shorts,” as well as “making cooling towels available.”

The statement said that UPS has also been “accelerating the installation of fans in UPS vehicles across the country.”

“UPS trains employees to work safely throughout the year, focusing on the importance of proper rest, hydration, nutrition, and other good health practices,” said spokesperson Matt O’Connor. “We have meetings with our employees all year round, and when warranted remind them of forecasted temperatures, signs and symptoms of heat illness, and to be aware of their own health conditions.”

Share This Post