The United Parcel Service has reached an agreement with America’s largest labor union to phase out air conditioning in the delivery giant’s fleet of 93,000 vehicles – a pledge that follows a spate of complaints from workers about heat exhaustion last summer.
according to a opinion The deal, posted on the Teamsters Union website, sees all larger delivery trucks, smaller Sprinter vans and iconic brown vans purchased by UPS after January 1, 2024, and come equipped with air conditioning, heat shields and additional fans.
As part of the new agreement, “two fans would also be installed in the driver’s cab of all parcel vans” within 30 days of the contract coming into effect, the statement said.
“We are here to protect more than 340,000 UPS Teamsters and secure the best contract in our union’s history with this company,” Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien said in the statement Thursday.
Approval results for the new contract will be announced on Friday.
The long-awaited news comes a year after summer heatwaves caused UPS couriers to suffer from heat exhaustion. In one case, the work in oppressive temperatures led to a morbid end.
In July 2022, UPS driver Esteban Chavez Jr. was delivering packages in Pasadena, California when he collapsed as temperatures soared to over 90 degrees.
Chavez Jr. was reportedly in a coma for more than 20 minutes before anyone noticed and called for help.
He was later pronounced dead – just a day after his 24th birthday – which his family said was the result of heat exhaustion or dehydration.
Just weeks later, in footage of a Ring doorbell system, a UPS worker in Scottsdale, Arizona, appeared dazed before falling to the ground.
Temperatures in Arizona that day were in the triple digits.
The Teamsters Union has campaigned for years to provide more protection for UPS workers working in extreme heat.
According to UPS, which delivers up to 27 million packages a day — a whopping 25 billion a year — more than 100 workers were treated for heat-related illnesses last year NPR.
Almost all American cars already come with air conditioning, and the decision to add air conditioning to UPS vehicles has prompted Teamsters to consider a strike, if not a new contract deal by July 31, when the current contract expires is decided.
“Our employees are very important to us and their safety remains our top priority. Heat safety is no exception,” UPS spokeswoman Michelle Polk told The Post.
Polk also pointed out a blog entry Earlier this month, UPS published a publication titled “5 Ways UPS is Improving Employee Health Safety.” Sites upgraded cooling clothing, new car fans, and improved access to ice and cold water to keep employees safe in hot conditions.