UPS drivers push for air conditioning as temperatures soar: ‘People are dropping weekly’

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As a UPS operator of 2 years standing, Matt Leichenger of Brooklyn, New York, makes 100 to 150 stops a day, delivering anyplace from 150 to much than 300 packages.

It is simply a pugnacious occupation astatine the champion of times, but successful summer, a emblematic operator is moving hundreds of pounds of cargo and organizing packages successful the backmost of their brownish UPS truck, wherever temperatures soar owed to a deficiency of aerial conditioning and ventilation.

Shifts tin past up to 14 hours, and Leichenger has experienced the grueling toll soaring temperatures instrumentality connected transportation drivers. He recently was denied a request for a instrumentality to beryllium installed successful his motortruck – though a UPS spokesperson said the institution provides fans to workers connected request.

“There’s a play of your time wherever astatine each halt you’re stepping into a hellhole. The 2nd you measurement backmost there, you conscionable consciousness each the sweat pouring retired of your body,” said Leichenger.

The terms immoderate workers wage tin beryllium a deadly one. In aboriginal July successful California, UPS operator Esteban Chavez, 24, collapsed and died while moving arsenic temperatures roseate to the precocious 90s. A video from a Ring surveillance camera besides went viral successful July showing a UPS operator collapsing connected a structure successful excessive heat.

With declaration negotiations acceptable for adjacent year, Leichenger and different workers represented by the Teamsters national are pushing for aerial conditioning successful vehicles, amended vigor extortion connected the job, nary much excessive overtime, higher wage for part-time workers, much full-time positions, and eliminating driver-facing surveillance cameras that are being installed successful UPS trucks.

“We don’t person contractual connection that guarantees america aerial conditioning, but I deliberation this is thing the national authorities should truly beryllium stepping up to instrumentality – not conscionable astatine UPS, but for workers crossed each manufacture wherever utmost upwind conditions are truly taking a toll connected workers,” Leichenger said.

Last week, the Teamsters demanded urgent details from UPS connected the companies’ plans, grooming materials, and assessments connected protecting workers from excessive heat. UPS reaped grounds profits past year, astatine $12.89bn, and reported $6.8bn for the archetypal two quarters of this year.

“People are conscionable dropping play here. It’s not thing wherever that 1 operator successful Arizona is going viral,” said Moe Nouhaili, a UPS operator successful Las Vegas. “It’s not conscionable the mode that UPS is treating workers, it’s besides however they’re making america work, expecting america to conscionable these unrealistic productivity numbers adjacent done the weather.”

He said operator routes are determined by bundle called Orion, which calculates however agelong a way should take. Drivers look subject if they transcend that time, contempt excessive vigor conditions, helium said.

Raul Medina, a UPS operator successful Chicago, said workers, including drivers and warehouse staff, are facing accrued pressures implicit productivity, and person been fixed larger workloads, each portion dealing with expanding temperatures fueled by the clime crisis.

“The magnitude of enactment we’re doing present has increased. The size and value of the packages person increased, truthful we’re really putting overmuch much of a carnal effort into it, on with the heat, and due to the fact that of planetary warming, it’s not going to get immoderate cooler. We’re going to spot much blistery days, and much consecutive blistery days,” said Medina.

As the clime situation worsens, workers are increasingly astatine hazard of unwellness oregon decease owed to vigor vulnerability connected the job, with precocious vigor scale days of supra 100F expected to treble by mid-century. June 2022 tied with 2020 arsenic the warmest June connected record. Through July, galore US cities experienced record-breaking temperatures and consecutive days of utmost vigor amid planetary summertime heatwaves.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 62 workers died successful the US owed to utmost temperatures successful 2020, though fatalities and injuries from vigor vulnerability are underreported.

Elliot Lewis, a operator successful New York City, said the backmost of UPS trucks tin scope 130F during blistery summertime days, and this has resulted successful galore of his co-workers getting sick.

He criticized UPS installing driver-facing surveillance cameras portion refusing to instal aerial conditioning. Lewis said the cameras adhd accrued scrutiny to workers already fearful of taking breaks to chill off, get water, oregon spell to the bathroom, arsenic they could beryllium disciplined and hazard occupation termination.

“You spot a batch of drivers, unfortunately, similar astatine Amazon, peeing successful the backmost of the truck, not drinking capable water, and ending up with heatstroke due to the fact that they consciousness that unit to beryllium moving faster,” helium added.

A spokesperson for UPS characterized the surveillance cameras arsenic a information precaution and claimed the inward-facing cameras bash not grounds audio oregon video but enactment arsenic sensors to show for risky behavior.

“The information received from forward-facing cameras and inward-facing sensors is utilized by section UPS absorption teams to place risky behaviors and supply in-person coaching and training,” said the spokesperson.

The spokesperson did not remark connected aerial conditioning, but cited vigor information training, ventilation integration successful vehicles, h2o and ice, and wellness and information committees.

“UPS drivers are trained to enactment outdoors and to negociate the effects of blistery weather. Preparation, rest, hydration and maintaining bully wellness practices are cardinal to moving outdoors. UPS invests much than $260m annually to instrumentality programs focused connected safety, including moving successful blistery weather,” they said.

“We ne'er privation our employees to proceed moving to the constituent that they hazard their wellness oregon enactment successful an unsafe manner.”