This story is part of Record High, a Grist series examining extreme heat and its impact on how — and where — we live.
During a summer that has already shattered temperature records, the 340,000 drivers, dispatchers, and warehouse workers currently in contract negotiations with UPS — the United States’ largest unionized employer — have made climate change and extreme heat a headline labor issue. And if they don’t secure a contract by July 31, they are poised to initiate the largest single-employer strike in U.S. history.
On summer days, the back of a delivery truck can exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit. When Viviana Gonzalez, a package delivery driver for United Postal Service in Los Angeles, pulls open the back of her truck, she often thinks: “Am I going to pass out back here? Will anybody find out that I’m here in the back of the truck?”
Gonzalez is all too aware of how dangerous her job can be. Since 2015, UPS has reported at least 143 heat-related injuries to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. L... Read more