News & Commentary

August 1, 2022

Nicholas Anway

Nicholas Anway is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s news and commentary: Union representatives call for urgent heat protections for UPS workers and, at Starbucks, union organizing continues.

Union representatives across the country are worried about the increasing number of UPS workers who have needed medical treatment for heat illness this summer. NBC News reported that UPS, the world’s largest package delivery company, does not provide air conditioning in most of its warehouses and trucks. “After record earnings last year, the company installed cameras in its delivery trucks but did not change its heat safety protocols,” union spokespeople told NBC. “[T]emperature readings taken by workers in their trucks in Arizona and Florida and provided to NBC News show temperatures above 150 degrees.” Most UPS workers are covered by the largest union contract in North America, under which 350,000 workers are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The contract is set to expire next year. Union representatives told NBC that heat protections will be one of the key issues in upcoming contract negotiations. The Teamsters also issued a public letter last week, calling for UPS to implement heat protections like installing fans in every truck, providing drivers and warehouse workers with consistent supplies of water and ice, providing more breathable uniforms and hiring more drivers to reduce each drivers’ workload.

Starbucks workers continued union organizing efforts over the weekend. At a south Minneapolis store, workers implemented a surprise, two-day strike to protest management failing to negotiate over a first contract and changing store hours, wrote the Minnesota Reformer. Workers at the store, the second to unionize in Minnesota, became the first Starbucks in their state to strike, joining a national wave of labor protests in Boston, Seattle, Philadelphia and other cities. And on Friday, the Dallas Morning News reported that Starbucks workers in a Dallas store became the first in their city to unionize. The Dallas workers joined a list of cities in Texas with unionized Starbucks shops that includes Austin, San Antonio and Denton. According to Starbucks Workers United, more than 200 Starbucks shops have voted to unionize in total. The store employees wanted “to prove that it’s possible in Dallas, too.”

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