UPS drivers are revealing the gruesome reality behind your online orders. They say the company is forcing 12+ hour days and constant overtime. UPS’s scheduling has ruined countless families and marriages, and in the heat, excessive overtime can be a death sentence. More Perfect Union spoke to UPS drivers about their working conditions. A full transcription of the video is below.
Moe: They’re just abusing us out there.
[News clip]: Flowers in front of this Pasadena home are in memory of 24 year old Esteban Chavez Jr.
Moe: Doing everything they can to overwork us.
[News clip]: Chavez was found dead in his UPS truck after delivering his last package for the day.
Christina: A lot more UPS drivers have gone down with heat related illness.
[News clip]: He collapses, overwhelmed by the 110 degree temperature in Arizona.
Christina: And customers are starting to take notice.
[Customer]: It’s just a sickening feeling that you don’t know what’s gonna happen to that guy if he goes to the next house.
Christina: I think the comment that they made after is awful.
[News clip]: The company says that their drivers are trained on how to deal with the high temperatures.
UPS Driver: The new guys, and I know it was 2 new guys that died from heat stroke, they’re working ‘em 6 days a week, sometimes 12 hours a day. Excessive overtime is definitely the number one factor of why we’re having this huge problem with heat related issues.
Christina: UPS, at least listen to what we’re saying. This is our job, we’re gonna show up every day and we’re gonna do it. But nobody wants to die.
Excessive overtime is killing UPS drivers.
UPS Driver: I’ve been at UPS for 29 years. When I first started, I was working 8, 8 and half hours, and getting home at 5:30.
Christina: I loved my job. if they needed something I’d be the first one to jump up and be like, “you want me to come in on Saturday? I’m in it.” You would communicate with them about your schedule, and they would work with you. Now, you walk in and you’ve got a truck that you can’t complete in any reasonable amount of time.
Moe: We have some lower seniority drivers that haven’t known what it’s like to work less than a 12 hour day for years.
Christina: It’s not fair to us or our families, when we already sacrifice so much for this company that we love.
Moe: A lot of other drivers where their families were ruined by the excessive overtime. They don’t get to see their kids grow up. We have a very high divorce rate.
UPS had its most profitable year in 2021. Drivers say UPS is forcing longer routes.
Moe: The same amount of work that would be done in say 30 routes is now being forced to get done in 20 or 25. Less people get more work done.
Christina: Our job is very very physical.
UPS Driver: And we have packages that are up to 150 pounds.
Christina: We’re delivering 50, 60, 70 boxes to a stop.
Moe: Excessive overtime in the heat obviously puts you at higher risk for injuries, because you’re out there longer. Our customers were outraged seeing the working conditions that we were dealing with. But what they didn’t understand is that that happens weekly throughout the summer.
UPS Driver: It was late July, and it was about 104 degrees that day. I was scheduled for a 12 hour day. I’d worked the whole week up to that, long days. As soon as I was done delivering, I started to get really sick. Super lightheaded, nauseous, heart racing. It was pretty scary. And I was actually on vacation the following week, so that was good, I got some rest. The following Monday, I came back to work, and I was scheduled for 12 hours again.
The current UPS contract allows drivers to file grievances for forced overtime. But they say it isn’t enough.
UPS Driver: We have recourse through the union to file a grievance for anything over 9 and a half hours a day, 3 times in a week. And the company has to pay you triple time.
Christina: That seems great right? Well, at least they’re paying me for it. But for a lot of people, it’s not good enough. We don’t want the money. We want to go to our son’s football game.
Moe: It didn’t matter if you had a family emergency, you had to get that work done or you were gonna face discipline.
Christina: They just give you the overtime, and then throw a check at you saying “well there, that should take care of it.” And it doesn’t.
The UPS contract with the Teamsters expires next August. Teamsters are gearing up for a potential strike.
[Sean O’Brien]: We got 360,000 rank-and-file Teamster members who are sick of taking shit. Now it’s time, not to demand what we want, it’s to demand what we’re worth, and we’re worth a shitload of money.
UPS Driver: I would be willing to go on strike next year, to alleviate the overtime.
Christina: I am 100% willing to strike.
[Interviewer]: What difference would it make in your life, to not have excessive overtime?
Christina: Oh man, to not have excessive overtime in my life… More time with my son. It would mean the world to me to be able to be more involved as a parent, and watch him grow.
Moe: I would love to be able to get back into little hobbies with my wife, and get to spend more time with her.
Christina: I pour my heart and soul into this company, and I love what I do. But we’re seeing more and more that they’re just looking at us as numbers. We are the face of the company. When I deliver a box, that customer sees me.
Videography by Bryon Evans and Karam Singh