UPS truck driver maneuvers his delivery truck through Times Square in New York

UPS Faces Heat for Delay in Equipping Delivery Vans with Air Conditioning

UPS has yet to fulfil its promise of air-conditioned delivery vans, a pledge made in last year’s contract with the Teamsters union. This delay persists despite rising temperatures and increasing concerns about worker safety.

The commitment to install AC in new vans was a major concession in UPS’s contract with the Teamsters, who represent over 300,000 UPS employees. Nearly 100,000 brown package vans lack AC, and temperatures inside these vans can soar above 120 degrees, posing significant health risks to drivers.

During last year’s contract negotiations, the union emphasized that air conditioning was a critical safety measure, not just a comfort feature. Drivers have faced heatstroke and other heat-related illnesses while working in sweltering conditions.

Under the agreement reached in July of last year, UPS promised that all vans purchased after January 1 would include air conditioning. The company also committed to retrofitting existing vans with fans in the cab, heat shields under the cargo area, and “scoop air intakes” to improve ventilation. While fans have been installed in all vans and about two-thirds have received heat shields and air scoops, no new AC-equipped vans have been purchased this year.

UPS has stated that van purchases depend on package volume and the need to replace the existing fleet. So far, there has been no necessity to acquire new vans. This explanation has not satisfied the Teamsters, who expressed frustration over the slow progress.

“We are midway into the summer, and frankly, UPS is not moving fast enough,” the union said in a statement to CNN. While acknowledging that UPS has met some contractual requirements ahead of schedule, the union insists that these measures are insufficient.

Currently, only a small fraction of the UPS fleet—comprising electric vans and specialized rural vehicles—have air conditioning. These make up a minor portion of the 94,000 package vans on American roads. The slow replacement rate of vans, which can last over 15 years, means retrofitting the existing fleet is crucial for immediate relief.

UPS maintains that worker safety is a top priority and that air conditioning was never intended to be the primary solution for heat mitigation. The company has installed additional ice machines and water fountains in its facilities, provided cooling gear for drivers and inside staff, and increased the number of fans in its buildings.

Despite these efforts, air conditioning remains a rare feature in UPS delivery vans, leaving many workers to cope with extreme heat as summer progresses.

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