Air conditioning to become crucial issue in UPS contract fight

Air conditioning to become crucial issue in UPS contract fight

Hours earlier than Jim Klenk almost died, he completed his shift regardless of seeing stars.

Klenk was used to working lengthy hours as a UPS driver in a truck with no air con. However in August 2016, hauling packages in 90-degree temperatures proved an excessive amount of. He went to the emergency room after work, the place medical doctors informed him his kidneys have been failing and requested for his final needs.

Klenk survived, although the incident led him to retire early. His spouse Theresa began a petition for UPS to air-condition their vehicles, which greater than 1 million individuals have signed.

UPS drivers’ struggles with the warmth have turn into a key contest between the Teamsters union, which represents 340,000 UPS staff, and the corporate as they vote this week on whether or not to authorize one of many largest work stoppages in U.S. historical past if the events don’t attain a contract by the top of July. One union poster guarantees to “make UPS really feel the warmth,” citing recorded back-of-truck temperatures of as much as 140 levels.

“The within of the truck is as scorching as a pizza oven, they don’t lighten the hundreds on scorching days,” stated Brooklyn, N.Y.-based UPS driver Chris Cappadona, who went to the hospital final yr due to warmth exhaustion.

As temperatures rise, industries battle warmth safeguards for staff

The drivers’ union needs UPS to air-condition its fleet and supply staff extra water and ice. UPS has already provided to extend fan entry and to air-condition about 2 % of automobiles, Teamsters spokesperson Kara Deniz informed The Washington Publish on Thursday morning. UPS spokesperson Glenn Zaccara declined to touch upon ongoing negotiations.

UPS has already invested in followers and “Cool Options” security coaching, which inspires drivers to drink water, amongst different ideas. Up to now, the corporate has stated drivers’ frequent stops would make air con ineffective as a result of they open and shut automobiles’ doorways. Zaccara stated drivers have “blended” opinions on air con and that UPS is “pursuing simpler technique of cooling the cargo bay areas of our automobiles.”

No less than 143 UPS staff have suffered extreme warmth or dehydration-related accidents since 2015, in line with knowledge the corporate experiences to the Occupational Security and Well being Administration. California-based UPS driver Esteban Chavez died whereas delivering packages final June. His household stated warmth stroke contributed to his demise at 24; UPS is unaware of any reason for demise, Zaccara stated. Digicam footage posted on-line final yr confirmed one other UPS driver collapsing on a buyer’s doorstep in Arizona.

“There’s quite a lot of completely different ways in which warmth can have an effect on our physique — one is kidney failure, one other is our coronary heart. We even see that the mind can typically be affected,” stated Autumn Brogan, who works as an emergency medication doctor on the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. In temperatures above 90 levels and in closed areas just like the again of a truck, followers typically don’t present efficient air circulation, she stated.

As annual common temperatures in america rise, drivers’ downside will seemingly worsen. Elements of america have skilled record-high temperatures every of the previous three summers — a pattern local weather scientists and climate forecasters say isn’t going away. UPS driver and Teamsters Native 804 alternate store steward Elliot Lewis stated local weather change makes drivers’ demand for higher warmth safety much more important.

A number of of UPS’s rivals have taken steps to air-condition their fleets. The U.S. Postal Service will start changing its vehicles with new climate-controlled fashions in 2024. DHL and FedEx’s company-owned vehicles are additionally air-conditioned, though massive elements of their fleets are owned by third events.

USPS vehicles don’t have air luggage or air con. They get 10 mpg. And so they have been revolutionary.

The Teamsters and UPS proceed to haggle over air con as summer time temperatures blaze, together with in classes Thursday and Friday, Deniz stated. The union hopes to succeed in a contract and avert a possible strike earlier than Aug. 1.

Till then, drivers will sweat.


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