UPS will equip 90% of its fleet with air conditioning systems, fans, heat shields, and forced-air induction systems to better protect drivers from extremely high temperatures, under a tentative agreement reached during labor negotiations with U.S. Teamsters.
The commitment comes a week after Teamsters general president Sean O’Brien prioritized heat-related concerns during contract talks with the national negotiating committee.
As of Jan. 1, 2024, all newly purchased U.S. small package delivery vehicles will be equipped with A/C. And according to a UPS statement, the new vehicles will be allocated to the hottest parts of the U.S. where possible.
To provide additional airflow for drivers, UPS will install cab fans in package cars within 30 days of contracts being ratified. A second fan in cars with no A/C will be installed by June 1 next year.
Exhaust heat shields in the cargo floor will also be installed in all new non-electric package cars, and existing vehicles will have the heat shields incorporated into their design within 18 months after the contract ratification.
New forced-air induction systems for cargo areas will be introduced under the same conditions. Those systems will bring fresh air from the front of the vehicle into the cargo area. A new air intake vent on the passenger side will feed fresh air into the cargo bay and create a forced induction that helps increase airflow velocity, UPS explained.
Improving package cars
These improvements will be made to standard package cars, which represent approximately 95% of the U.S. package delivery fleet, UPS added. The remaining vehicles will also be enhanced where designs permit.
The changes will bring relief and protection that drivers have been fighting for, O’Brien said in a statement released through Twitter on Tuesday. “Today’s progress was a significant step towards a stronger new reality for so many workers and their families,” he tweeted.
Additional tentative agreements were also reached on Tuesday regarding more than a dozen other issues. Teamsters are preparing new proposals for UPS.
Last week, for example, the union agreed with UPS on a few adjustments in UPS’s service agreement. The fleet will clean up minor language around the national grievance procedure and adjust time-clock-related language relating to a new payroll system that workers will access before the beginning of 2026.
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