A 57-year-old UPS driver died after collapsing while making deliveries in the Texas heat last week.
UPS drivers' heat-related injuries and deaths in recent years have highlighted the dangers of the job.
In their newly ratified contract, UPS workers won AC installation in new vehicles starting next year.
A 57-year-old UPS driver in Texas has died after collapsing while making deliveries in the heat last week.
Christopher Begley was making deliveries in Farmersville, Texas, last Wednesday when he collapsed. The highest temperature in Farmersville that day was 102°F, according to The Weather Channel.
Begley, a father of two, worked for UPS for 28 years and was looking forward to retiring soon, local news station WFAA reported.
"We are saddened by the loss of our driver Christopher Begley and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends," UPS said in a statement to Insider. "We are cooperating with the authorities as they continue to investigate the cause of death. We train our people to recognize the symptoms of heat stress, and we respond immediately to any request for help."
Begley told his management team he wasn't feeling well on Wednesday, UPS told Insider, adding that the company "immediately responded to his location" and "ensured he had water and was resting in a cool environment."
Begley declined medical attention multiple times, said he had recovered, and asked to be taken home, according to UPS. He took the rest of the day off and a few additional days. UPS said it learned on Sunday that he had been hospitalized and on Monday that he had passed away.
Teamsters Local 767 President Dave Reeves told CBS News Texas this is the second heat-related death of a UPS worker in North Central Texas in the past two years and that multiple workers seek treatment at hospitals each week due to heat-related illnesses. The Teamsters union represents about 340,000 UPS workers.
"The Teamsters are deeply saddened and angered by the untimely loss of two of our Teamster brothers," the union said in a social media post Thursday. The post also referenced Tony Rufus, a Local 667 member who worked at a Kroger in Memphis and also died recently while working in extreme heat.
"These losses are piercing and painful reminders that the protections that workers need are real, and employers need to step up and act accordingly when workers demand relief. Our members should have returned home safely at the end of the day," the post continued.
Delivery drivers for companies like UPS, FedEx, and Amazon have, in recent years, had to contend with record-breaking temperatures. Some feel the need to shorten or even forgo breaks for shade and water in order to deliver their packages in time.
Last June, 24-year-old UPS driver Esteban Chavez Jr. died on the job after being found unconscious in his truck while on his route in Pasadena, California; his family maintains temperatures in the 90s that day were the cause. A month later, a homeowner in Scottsdale, Arizona, shared doorbell footage of a UPS driver collapsing outside their front door on a day when area temperatures got as high as 113°F.
At the time, a UPS spokesperson told Insider the company provides water and ice to workers during the summer months, as well as heat illness and injury-prevention training.
UPS drivers have reported heat conditions so extreme in their vehicles that they've burned themselves touching metal equipment inside, and have been able to cook steaks and bake cookies on their dashboards.
Following months of negotiations with Teamsters, UPS announced in June that it would install air conditioning in new trucks starting next year. The company said it would send new trucks to the hottest parts of the country first, if possible. The company also said it would retrofit its existing package cars with cab fans, exhaust heat shields, and cargo area ventilation.
"While these improvements will make a difference in the months and years ahead, we had to fight like hell to secure them," the Teamsters union said in its social media post Thursday. "Chris Begley should still be alive to experience them. All companies, including UPS, need to remember that their past failings to protect workers can have deadly serious consequences in the future."
UPS and the Teamsters reached a tentative agreement in July that would allow full-time drivers to earn about $170,000 annually in salary and benefits by the end of their five-year contracts. Rank-and-file Teamsters voted to ratify the contract by a record 86.3%, and it took effect last week.
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