How Climate Change Is Shaping Looming UPS Union Strike

United Parcel Service workers are planning a strike amidst difficult working conditions and heat waves.

According to NPR, contract negotiations between the UPS union Teamsters and UPS management broke down after UPS refused to comply with the Teamster union’s requests.

Photo: Mike Mozart/ License: CC BY 2.0

If UPS and Teamsters don’t reach an agreement by the end of the month, the union, which represents 340,000 UPS workers (over half the UPS workforce) will go on strike beginning August 1.

Time reports that the strike is largely pushed by weather demands, and while climate change wasn’t directly mentioned in the negotiations, it seems to be shaping the future of mail delivery. The union wants improved working conditions for its drivers and staff, “including air-conditioned vehicles and company-provided ice for coolers at the cargo centers.”

Photo: Atomic Taco/ License: CC BY-SA 2.0

UPS feels that air conditioning for its cars is unnecessary and wasteful, given that drivers get in and out of their vehicles all day.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Heat waves are occurring more often than they used to in major cities across the United States. Their frequency has increased steadily, from an average of two heat waves per year during the 1960s to six per year during the 2010s and 2020s.”

Photo: Elvert Barnes/ License: CC BY 2.0

Mail carriers are among the people suffering from the increased heat waves. Back in 2018, a mail carrier actually died on the job during an intense heat wave, and many others suffer from heat-related ailments.

According to Time, this could be one of the largest strikes in U.S. history if UPS and the union cannot come to an agreement.

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