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Finally, a Very Cool Amenity for UPS Drivers

Company strikes tentative deal with Teamsters union to install air conditioning in delivery trucks
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2023 7:57 AM CDT
Finally, a Very Cool Amenity for UPS Drivers
A UPS truck makes deliveries in Northbrook, Illinois, on May 10.   (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" may be the creed of US postal workers, but UPS drivers, also charged with making deliveries to Americans nationwide, just scored a victory in taking the "heat" part out of the mix. Although negotiations over a new contract for the shipping giant's 340,000 union members continue, the company has struck a tentative deal with the workers' union that will add air conditioning to the company's brown delivery trucks, reports NPR. "We have reached an agreement with the Teamsters on new heat safety measures that build on important actions UPS rolled out to employees in the spring, which included new cooling gear and enhanced training," UPS says in a Tuesday statement.

The company says that "all newly purchased US small package delivery vehicles" will be equipped with AC starting in January, and that "where possible, new vehicles will be allocated to the hottest parts of the country first." The union notes this will be the first time the company is being mandated to provide air conditioning in its "package car" vehicles, which is the vast majority of its delivery fleet. Other measures in the name of heat safety the company plans to implement include cab fans in package cars; exhaust heat shields in vehicles to bring floor temps down; and a forced-air induction system that "brings fresh air from the front of the vehicle into the cargo area," per the statement.

The move toward AC comes after reports from workers who've faced extreme heat on the job, and complaints that the company hasn't been doing enough about it. Drivers have reported temperatures of up to 152 degrees in the trucks' cargo area. Per federal data cited by the Washington Post, more than 140 UPS workers have suffered heat- or dehydration-linked injuries, and NPR notes that things look to get worse as climate change creates longer and hotter heat waves. For context, "nearly every American car is equipped with standard air conditioning," according to auto not-for-profit group AAA. "We care deeply about our people, and their safety remains our top priority," UPS' statement reads. "Heat safety is no exception." Much more here on how heat has affected the drivers. (More UPS stories.)

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