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Delivery drivers suffer: Long hours in record high temps take a toll

Teamsters demand a plan of action for UPS employees to combat record summer heat waves

SHARE Delivery drivers suffer: Long hours in record high temps take a toll

UPS driver Joe Speeler makes a delivery at the Leanon Shops in Mount Lebanon, Pa., on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. The union supporting UPS workers has demanded a work plan for extreme heat conditions.

Gene J. Puskar, Associated Press

Imagine a delivery driver coming to your porch a little wobbly and then collapsing before even ringing your doorbell. In Arizona, that’s exactly what happened.

ABC News reported that a UPS delivery driver collapsed at the door of a customer in Arizona who saw the incident through his Ring doorbell camera. The driver was fine after receiving help from his manager.

Across the country, delivery drivers have been seen struggling with the extreme, record-high temperatures since they work outside daily.

A UPS driver in southern California died on the job last month, due to what his family suspected was heat stroke, as reported by ABC News.

This made the extreme heat across the country a hot topic for UPS union officials at Teamsters, who demand action from UPS.

Of the 5,000-plus UPS locations in the U.S., 16% are in California, 10% in Florida and 8% in Texas. Florida and Texas are in the top five hottest states list in the United States, as reported by World Population Review. This summer, these states are experiencing temperatures up to 10 degrees hotter than normal.

Delivery drivers are at higher risk for heat stroke and other illnesses because of the amount of time they spend outside, often working eight hours or more in the heat.

And on days when the number of deliveries is especially high, the record-hot days in the sun are even longer.

On Monday this week, Teamsters demanded that within two weeks UPS must present all details of the plan to protect union workers against the extreme heat hitting the U.S.

“These trucks and warehouses are infernos,” Teamsters 804 President Vinnie Perrone said. “UPS can afford to do the right things and protect its workers. They need to stop making excuses and do it now.”

The union demands, among other things, that UPS conduct a detailed inventory of “working water fountains, functional ice machines, and accessible first aid kits” at all locations. These supplies are supposed to be at every UPS location, as agreed to previously by Teamsters and UPS.

“UPS hasn’t been proactive at all on the topic of heat, and that’s going to have to change,” Sean M. O’Brien, general president of the union, told ABC News. “By refusing to implement these safety measures, the company is literally sending drivers out to die in the heat.”

The union also requests that outside of the warehouse and UPS facilities, fans should be installed in every truck, water in every vehicle, workers provided cooling neck towels and uniforms be changed to have higher air and vapor permeability. They want to create more full-time positions to give all employees more breaks on hot days.

If you want to help delivery drivers in this very hot summer, consider putting a cooler of water bottles or Gatorade on your front porch when you're expecting a package. It could make — or save — someone’s day.