UPS agrees to upgrade vehicles to help delivery drivers combat extreme heat

UPS drivers say many trucks don’t have air conditioning, but under a tentative agreement, current cabs will be retrofitted with two fans by June 1, 2024. The Fortune 500 company said small vehicles purchased after January 1, 2024, will have air conditioning.

The world’s largest package delivery company has announced a tentative agreement with the Teamsters union that could have many drivers seeing relief from the heat while on routes.

UPS released information on the agreement Wednesday that it said included new cooling gear and enhanced training, which will be unveiled through 2024.

According to the company, newly purchased small package delivery vehicles will come equipped with air conditioning starting in January, while all larger delivery trucks will receive a second during the next year.

Additionally, the company said it would take steps to adjust the airflow in the cargo holds, which could reduce floor temperatures by up to 17 degrees.

"Air conditioning is coming to UPS, and Teamster members in these vehicles will get the relief and protection they’ve been fighting for," Sean O’Brien, general president of the Teamsters union, stated.


The agreement comes after a series of high-profile incidents across the country where carriers appeared to suffer distress because of hot temperatures during heat waves.

In 2022, a driver was caught on video from a Ring doorbell camera collapsing on the porch of a home in Arizona.

And in California, the family of a 24-year-old driver said their loved one passed away during the heat while on a route.

A UPS spokesperson previously stated that since its larger package delivery vehicles make frequent stops, air conditioning commonly found in smaller cars would not be as efficient as other venting processes.

Teamsters members said the heat isn’t a new problem, but changes are happening because more people are paying attention and demanding action.

Members said they were working towards a nationwide strike if an agreement was not reached on key issues such as wages and working conditions.


The company said it intends to focus efforts on the hottest parts of the country first, with a goal of ensuring training and upgrades are in place by the start of next year’s meteorological summer.

UPS did not state how much upgrades will cost but did say the formation of a Teamsters-UPS task force will investigate further solutions on how to beat the heat.

The private company is not the only delivery organization facing pressure to adjust operations. 

An investigation conducted by the Center for Public Integrity found that, as of 2017, 70 percent of the United States Postal Service’s fleet did not have air conditioning.

Under its long-term plan, USPS’ next-generation delivery vehicles will include air conditioning and could start appearing on routes in 2024.