Workers from UPS gathered on Thursday morning to protest the company’s failure to provide enough cooling during moments of excessive heat.
At the event, union officials called UPS distribution sites “infernos” with insufficient air conditioning. Esteban Chavez, 24, a UPS driver from Pasadena, California, died in June after collapsing at work on a 90-degree day. His death served as the impetus for the protest. A moment of silence was observed in honor of Chavez to end the ceremony.
In response to the allegations made by union representatives, UPS stated that the company’s top priorities are the health and safety of its employees. According to a company spokeswoman who talked with CNBC, “UPS drivers are taught to operate outdoors and to manage the consequences of hot weather.”
The United States has recently experienced record-breaking heat across a large portion of the country. Temperatures above 90 degrees have been consistently recorded in New York City. Last week, the city reported a death brought on by the heat.
Teamsters Local 804 assembled outside the UPS Customer Center in Brooklyn next to an inflatable “fat cat” gripping a bag of cash and a delivery worker by the neck, representing 8,000 workers in the greater New York City area.
More Teamsters work for UPS than any other employer. The deadline for the national union contract to be renewed is July 31, 2023, and Local 804 union leaders on Thursday issued a strike warning.
Local 804 The UPS quarterly earnings report from Tuesday, which exceeded Wall Street’s forecasts, was read out by President Vincent Perrone.
Perrone informed the group of deliverymen and warehouse workers, “They’re estimated, off of your backs, you brothers and sisters, to have a revenue of over $100 billion in 2022.”
Throughout his employment, Perrone, a UPS driver for more than 25 years, claimed to have sought medical help three times. Three and a half years have passed since Perrone was elected president of Local 804.
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Perrone told CNBC during the rally, “I had four drivers just last week on Thursday and Friday that had to go to the emergency room because of the heat.” He said that management failed to call an ambulance in one instance.
These structures are on fire inside, he declared. The management’s offices and the areas where they store their electronics are the only things that have air conditioning.
The company’s CEO, Carol Tome, was challenged by Local 804 Vice President Christopher Williamson to spend the night in a warehouse when management allegedly turns off the air conditioning in the warehouses at 6 p.m.
Williamson revealed to CNBC that parts to repair an ice maker have been waiting in his storage. How do you wait for components when UPS offers next-day air delivery, he enquired?
According to UPS, safety procedures, especially those for working in hot conditions, cost $270 million annually.
Working outdoors requires careful planning, relaxation, water, and adherence to excellent health practices, a spokeswoman said. In addition to giving water and ice to delivery and warehouse staff, the UPS “Cool Solutions” program instructs “personnel about hydration, coupled with nutrition and a good sleep before working in harsher conditions.”
Brett Daniels, an organizer for the Amazon Labor Union, also went to the UPS workers’ rally on Thursday. The first Amazon warehouse to unionize in the US is Daniels’ place of employment, the JFK8 fulfillment center in Staten Island.
It’s the same battle, said Daniels. As Amazon warehouse workers, we can particularly relate to the poor ventilation and the lack of air conditioning in the workplace.