Those iconic brown trucks signal that packages are being delivered to Americans in record numbers, but most of them have no air conditioning. This along with other factors, critics say, is causing an increasing number of workers to be hospitalized this summer.
Unions are unions not because they present a balanced view of situations, but because they historically make rather ludicrous charges to the detriment of a successful business just to line their own pockets. But air conditioning?
For workers as essential as delivery drivers, it is logical and pro-business to provide whatever is necessary for their safety in the summer heat.
Critics also charge this is different from rivals such as the USPS, FedEx, and Amazon, which provide many more air-conditioned delivery vehicles for their drivers.
UPS drivers, who number around 450,000, are mostly represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The union’s general president, Sean M. O’Brien, said that the company is putting their most essential component at a grave risk.
Safety measures requested by the Teamsters include having fans in every UPS truck — instead of just by request. Each truck, the union says, should have cooling neck towels and regular water and ice.
Workers also asked for more breathable uniforms and a push to hire more drivers to ease the burden of a heavy workload. Hiring drivers may be a neat trick in this historically tight labor market, but O’Brien said the safety steps are critical.
In a public letter sent last week, he said that refusal to implement the measures means UPS is “literally sending drivers out to die in the heat.”
The company responded with a statement asserting that drivers are trained to work outdoors and to deal with hot weather. Workers are provided with regular heat illness and safety training, and UPS insists there is both water and ice available.
One UPS worker in New York City last week accused his boss of telling him that sipping water on the clock “wastes company time.” Temperatures in the metropolis reached 95 degrees in recent days.
A doorbell camera in Arizona captured a disturbing scene of a driver collapsing on a porch during the excessive summer heat. The family of a 24-year-old worker in California claims he died from a heat stroke while on the clock for UPS earlier this month.
If the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions proved anything, it was the value of having merchandise delivered to the doorstep. And that value covers the consumer, the company sending the items, and the drivers.