UPS Workers Endure Hot Summer, Long Shifts Amid Pandemic

During the summer of coronavirus UPS drivers are working 12 hour shifts delivering a record number of packages in record heat, all while wearing masks

A UPS driver sits in a UPS big brown truck
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Business has soared for UPS as Americans have turned to home delivery during the pandemic, but employees say heavy workloads, COVID-19 safety measures and sweltering summer heat are pushing them to the limit, NBC News reports.

“We're in the middle of a pandemic,” said David Cockrel, a UPS driver and union steward in Brooklyn, New York. “It's about 105 to 110 and hotter in the back of that truck. We're working, 10, 11, 12, 13 hours a day. We’re tired.”

Twenty UPS workers around the country told NBC News that since spring they’ve been dealing with the volume of packages they see during their peak season, the Christmas rush, if not more. As the pandemic has forced businesses to close around the country, UPS is a shiny outlier. Company statistics show home deliveries are up two-thirds compared to the same period in 2019. But even as temperatures rise, drivers and warehouse workers said they’re pushed to work harder and pressured not to take breaks or days off.

As the pandemic extends into the hottest days of summer, UPS employees are among thousands of essential workers in the U.S. confronting a Catch-22. To stave off infection, they’re told to wear masks and avoid clustering with others in closed, air-conditioned spaces. But those measures increase the risk of heat illness — a problem for delivery workers even before the pandemic.

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