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Heat wave poses danger to UPS Teamsters

By staff |
July 20, 2019
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Chicago, IL - Dozens of U.S. workers die every year due to heat, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). UPS trucks can feel as hot as ovens and UPS warehouses are almost unbearable in the summer. One memory burned into the minds of Chicago-area UPS workers is that of Stephen Michael, who died in a UPS warehouse in 2011 after his request to go home was denied, when he reported not feeling well during a day with a 109-degree heat index.

UPS workers are under intense pressure like never before. New technology, leading to great efficiency, ensures delivery drivers have trucks packed full of packages and management expects them to deliver them in one day, often over 200 deliveries, some weighing up to 140 pounds. Then there are pickups, where a typical driver will return with as many packages as they delivered. It's not uncommon for a driver to be out delivering 10 to 12 hours a day.

Many outside UPS don't always understand how bad it gets because the Teamsters delivering their packages are so friendly and helpful. Production harassment, on top of the miserable conditions, make most drivers hate their job, awaiting the day to drive larger semi-trucks or to get one of the rare full-time inside warehouse positions for their final days. Most, if not all, new drivers are warned by veteran drivers to move onto another job as soon as possible.

With the countless photos posted online of trucks reaching 140 degrees, the stories of vacationing drivers helping one another by running out with cold drinks, the customers donating cold drinks and wet towels, and stewards telling their members that drivers need to work safe and not give into production harassment, many are thinking more must be done. With every UPS worker covered by the most powerful union in the country, the Teamsters, a national campaign is possible that would lead to dramatic change in miserable summer working conditions.