Some UPS drivers still waiting for air conditioning in trucks as temperatures soar nationwide

FILE - UPS truck is seen in Miami, United States on May 2, 2024. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Some UPS drivers are still waiting for air-conditioned trucks as some areas around the country face sweltering heat just days into the official summer season.

Under the UPS Teamsters National Master Agreement, ratified in August 2023 following extensive negotiations between the Teamsters union and UPS, all trucks purchased from Jan. 1, 2024 onward must be equipped with air conditioning.

More specifically, UPS was tasked with equipping in-cab air conditioning on all large delivery vehicles, sprinter vans and package cars. All UPS cars will also get two fans and air induction vents in the cargo compartments to help keep temperatures down in the vehicles, according to the agreement.


UPS said it's ahead of schedule on its commitments, with hundreds of trucks on the road with air conditioning. But, the Teamsters union says it's not fast enough.

In total, UPS has about 94,000 active "package cars," the smaller vehicles used to deliver packages.

Teamsters spokesperson Kara Deniz told FOX Business Monday that UPS "has asserted to the Teamsters that all vehicles they've purchased this year have air conditioning." Deniz added that "we are midway into the summer and frankly, UPS is not moving fast enough."

Safe working conditions have been a longstanding concern for UPS employees. In July 2022, UPS workers in New York gathered in protest, calling for an end to what they deem as unsafe working environments, particularly in the face of scorching summer temperatures. The call for action came after the death of 24-year-old Esteban Chavez, who reportedly collapsed in his vehicle on a sweltering day in Pasadena, California.

Parts of the U.S. have already been hit by extreme temperatures as the 2024 summer season kicks off. In some areas, these high temperatures are projected to continue.


The National Weather Service (NWS) said on Sunday that "very warm conditions" will persist across the Los Angeles area, with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees. 

Meanwhile, the NWS office in New Orleans issued a heat advisory for Monday, given that "heat indices up to 112 degrees are expected throughout the day." In Phoenix, the NWS office projected that temperatures will "remain around 110 degrees and low temperatures around 90 degrees throughout this week." 

Even New York had a string of "days of above normal heat," though temperatures are now cooling, officials said. 

The union is aware that UPS installed all contractually required second fans and that the company is also ahead of schedule in the installation of heat shields and air induction scoops for package compartment ventilation, Deniz said. 

However, Deniz believes UPS actions are not enough, saying that the "UPS Teamsters Heat Committee is meeting regularly and deciding on the union’s next course of action if the company continues to drag its feet." 

UPS said that it's ahead of schedule on all its contractual commitments and that the company has been enhancing its heat safety training, outfitting workers with specialized cooling gear and adding equipment to its vehicles and facilities that helps protect employees from the heat over the past 18 months.

"We will continue to purchase and deploy new vehicles with AC as quickly as possible," UPS said in a statement to FOX Business. "We have also equipped the vast majority of our vehicles with heat shields and enhanced air intakes to better cool and ventilate the cargo area."

So far, UPS said it's distributed more than 440,000 pieces of specialized cooling gear for drivers and staff and supplied over 96,000 water jugs to drivers across the U.S. 

UPS also installed an additional 1,500 ice machines and 1,700 water fountains in its facilities, in addition to nearly 14,000 more fans. The company installed over 200,000 fans in its package cars too, UPS said.

More than 70,000 delivery vehicles have been equipped with exhaust heat shields, which preliminary tests have shown can reduce the vehicle floor temperature by up to 17 degrees, UPS said.

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