The Teamsters Union gave UPS a two-week notice to provide detailed information on any plan the billion-dollar company has to protect employees, combat heat illness, and install or replace badly needed relief equipment for workers amid increasingly extreme weather conditions.
The 1.2 million-member Teamsters, which represents 350,000 full- and part-time UPS workers, sent the formal request to UPS management last week. Within 15 days, the international union’s Safety and Health Department instructed the shipping and logistics giant to provide a heat illness and injury prevention plan, hazard assessments for all job classifications, training materials or procedures the company provides its own managers, and policies on how UPS responds to National Weather Service advisories.
“UPS executives sit inside their air-conditioned, C-suite offices all day while UPS Teamsters endure some of the most intense weather conditions imaginable, and this corporation needs to own up for what it is or is not doing to protect these workers,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien. “The Teamsters aren’t asking for answers — we’re demanding them.”
The Teamsters’ request reminds UPS of 16 times since 2011 that the employer has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for heat-related injuries and occupational hazards. All injuries and complaints have been detailed in Teamster grievances. The letter further reminds UPS that OSHA requires companies to provide a workplace free of such hazards or other conditions likely to cause serious physical harm or death.
“UPS is projected to pull in more than $100 billion in revenue in 2022 off the backs of Teamsters, and while management sits inside drooling over those figures, we’ve got members going to the emergency room,” said International Trustee and Teamsters Local 804 President Vinnie Perrone. “These trucks and warehouses are infernos. UPS can afford to do the right thing and protect its workers. They need to stop making excuses and do it now.”
In addition to safety plans and managerial policies, the Teamsters requested more information on personal protective equipment provided to employees and detailed lists of UPS fulfillment centers and satellite locations that currently have working water fountains, functional ice machines, and accessible first aid kits. Notably, the Teamsters also want to know which UPS facilities are not being properly equipped by the company, and why.
In recent weeks, with some states experiencing record heat, the Teamsters urged UPS to take immediate steps to protect workers. The actions proposed by the union — which the employer could easily initiate outside any collective bargaining process — include installing fans in every truck, providing water at every facility and in every vehicle, giving workers cooling neck towels and uniform materials with higher air and vapor permeability, and creating more full-time positions to give all employees more rest breaks on hot days.
Roughly 170 Teamster local unions across the United States kicked off a Call to Action with UPS members on August 1, marking one year until the expiration of the current UPS National Master Agreement on July 31, 2023. UPS Teamsters will remain united nationwide to negotiate and secure the strongest contract in the union’s history.