|The Teamsters Union and UPS on Tuesday reached a tentative deal to avert a strike when their contract expires on August 1, which included agreement on several key concessions to protect drivers from dangerous, climate change-driven extreme heat. |
The union won concessions that all trucks purchased after 2024 would be cooled, and forced overtime on scheduled days off and driver-facing cameras would be banned, as well as pay raises for both part time and full time workers, and higher starting salaries for part-time workers.
Extended working hours and overtime can put workers at risk when temperatures are high, and drivers complained that surveillance cameras made them wary of taking needed breaks for water or rest.
“Air conditioning is coming to UPS, and Teamster members in these vehicles will get the relief and protection they’ve been fighting for,” Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien, said, declaring victory.
Outdoor workers, including delivery drivers such as those working for UPS, are extremely vulnerable to extreme heat exacerbated by climate change. Workers typically have few protections from the heat, and industries have typically fought against efforts to enact such policies.
On Wednesday, however, Democrats in Congress introduced legislation that would direct the Labor Department to create standards to protect workers against dangerous heat, including paid breaks in shaded or climate-controlled spaces, providing water, and requiring emergency response and transportation for workers experiencing heat-related illness.
(Washington Post $, CNN, The Hill, Bloomberg $, What climate had to do with the potential strike: Time, E&E $, Heat safety bill: E&E $)