UPS workers rally in New York to protest hot working conditions


 UPS workers rallied Thursday morning to demand that the company provide workers adequate relief during periods of extreme heat.

Union leaders at the rally described UPS distribution centers as “infernos” with limited air conditioning. The rally was inspired by the June death of 24-year-old Esteban Chavez, a UPS driver who collapsed while working a 90-degree day in Pasadena, California. The event concluded with a moment of silence for Chavez.

UPS responded by saying the health and safety of its workers are the company’s top priority. “UPS drivers are trained to work outdoors and to manage the effects of hot weather,” a company spokesperson told CNBC.

Much of the United States has suffered through extraordinarily high and, in some cases, record-breaking temperatures of late. New York City has seen consistent temperatures in excess of 90 degrees. The city reported a heat-related death last week.

Teamsters Local 804, representing 8,000 workers in the metro New York area, gathered outside the UPS Customer Center in Brooklyn next to an inflatable “fat cat” holding a bag of money and a delivery worker by the neck.

UPS employs more Teamsters than any other company. The national union contract is set to expire July 31, 2023, and Local 804 union leaders Thursday warned of a possible strike.

Local 804 President Vincent Perrone read from the UPS quarterly earnings report on Tuesday, which surpassed Wall Street’s expectations.

“They’re projected, off of your backs, you brothers and sisters, to have revenue of over $100 billion in 2022,” Perrone told the crowd of delivery drivers and warehouse workers.

Perrone, who was a UPS driver for over 25 years, said that he had sought medical attention on three separate occasions throughout his career. Perrone has been the Local 804 president for three and a half years.

Teamster Local 804 rally in Brooklyn, NY. 220728
Teamster Local 804 rally in Brooklyn, NY. 220728
Jack Stebbins | CNBC

“I had four drivers just last week on Thursday and Friday that had to go to the emergency room because of the heat,” Perrone told CNBC during the rally. In one case, he said, management didn’t call an ambulance.

“These buildings are infernos inside,” he said. “The only things that are air conditioned are the management’s offices and where they keep their electronics.”

Local 804 Vice President Christopher Williamson said the management cuts off air conditioning in the warehouses at 6 p.m. and challenged the company’s CEO, Carol Tome, to spend a night in a warehouse.

Williamson told CNBC that his warehouse has been awaiting parts to fix an ice machine. He asked, “How are you waiting for parts when you’re UPS and you have next-day air delivery?”

UPS said it spends $270 million each year on safety programs, including for working in hot weather.

“Preparation, rest, hydration, and maintaining good health practices are key to working outdoors,” a spokesperson said. UPS has a “Cool Solutions” program that educates “employees about hydration, along with nutrition and proper sleep before working in hotter temperatures,” the representative added.

Amazon Labor Union organizer Brett Daniels also attended the UPS worker rally Thursday. Daniels is a warehouse worker at the JFK8 fulfillment center in Staten Island, the first Amazon warehouse to unionize in the United States.

“It’s the same struggle,” Daniels said. “Specifically with the working conditions: the poor ventilation and the no AC, we can really relate as Amazon warehouse workers.”

In the fallout of the months-long, extremely public saga of Elon Musk making and then deciding to abandon his $44 billion bid to acquire Twitter, the social media site is reeling from bad press and chief executive Parag Agrawal is struggling to keep executives from jumping ship.

As the legal battle to prevent Musk from backing out of his deal nears, Twitter is struggling with staff departures, falling morale, and reduced spending from marketers, the Financial Times reports.

CEO Agrawal has also been spending more time with advertisers to address their concerns after Musk’s bid led to a rocky second-quarter earnings call, company insiders and former staffers say.

Twitter’s revenue fell in the second quarter, which the company blamed on “uncertainty” over the pending acquisition by Musk and a slump in digital ad spending. Twitter also reported it had significantly slowed hiring, being more selective with the new roles it was hiring for, and seen its attrition rate increase.

This came after Twitter laid off almost a third of its talent acquisition team, according to reports from the Wall Street Journal, and a May decision to implement a hiring freeze across the whole company.  

Twitter is “appearing a bit rudderless”, one former Twitter executive told the Financial Times. “It is hard not to be a little sympathetic, as nothing is of anybody’s choosing, forced to do what they didn’t want to do by a rich guy’s whim.”

One employee said that some staff was increasingly afraid to speak out on public channels as they had become actively discouraged by management.

“Everyone’s given up on leadership,” a senior Twitter employee told the FT. “It seems like Twitter’s take is ‘This man is awful [but] he should run the company. Either way, it seems like the loser gets Twitter.”

M-Ad team

As Musk’s October five-day trial date approaches, advertising executives at Twitter are fleeing the company.

Twitter is suing Musk for the ongoing pressure his acquisition bid has put on its business—citing users fleeing, advertisers losing faith, and employees leaving the company. Twitter initially asked for a four-day trial in the “second half of September.”

Amid the drama over Musk’s Twitter buyout deal, advertisers have said Twitter’s ad sales are in disarray, with agency and sales reps fleeing the social media platform, AdAge reported on July 12. The report noted that in addition to the exodus of sales talent, advertisers have also shifted spending away from Twitter.

“Twitter will have trouble in the near future reassuring skittish advertisers and their users that they’re going to be stable,” Angelo Carusone, president of the watchdog group Media Matters for America, told the New York Times.

Media Matters for America and Accountable Tech were two members of a group of 20 advocacy groups, which also included Black Lives Matter, GLAAD, and Women’s March, that sent an open letter to advertisers urging them to boycott Twitter if Musk’s acquisitions meant rolling back content moderation policies limiting hate speech and election misinformation. 

As bad press mounts and executives flee, the costs are rising. Twitter’s expenses rose 31% to $1.52 billion in the second quarter—$33 million of which was spent on issues related to the Musk acquisition and another $19 million was spent on severance-related costs.

Bad Timing

The Twitter acquisition comes at a rough time for Twitter. Advertisers are tightening their belts amid a wider economic slowdown that includes record-high inflation and rising interest rates. Meanwhile, Twitter users are spending less time online as they emerge from the pandemic.

Twitter, which has been slow to innovate its platform, has a worse offering for advertisers when compared to competitors like TikTok and Instagram, analysts say. Bringing in less money in turn further hampers product development.

Rivals such as Facebook, TikTok, and Google will take market share from Twitter in the next few months, an advertising agency executive told the FT. “There won’t be new ad products, people will leave. Others will start stealing business.”

He added, “I’m personally wondering whether Twitter will survive all of this.”

How will it end?

The conclusion of the legal battle between Musk and Twitter will ultimately end the greatest source of uncertainty and decide the company’s future.

Musk and Twitter could settle and negotiate a lower price for the billionaire to buy the company, or negotiate a higher fee than the $1 billion stipulated for Musk to walk away.

Twitter could win in court and make Musk follow through on this purchase, or Musk could win by demonstrating that Twitter’s user base discrepancies exist as he claims and walks away unscathed.

But until the Delaware court decides the outcome, Twitter staffers will be confused about the company’s legal approach, which if successful would leave Twitter in the hands of someone who does not want it, staffers told the FT.

While thousands of workers are walking away from jobs over compensation, a North Carolina Chick-Fil-A has offered to pay “volunteers” who work there with chicken sandwiches.

The Hendersonville, NC, Chick-Fil-A posted the opportunity on Facebook on July 26, writing: “We are looking for volunteers for our new Drive Thru Express! Earn 5 free entrees per shift (1 hr) worked. Message us for details.”

It was quickly taken down as people ripped management for the offer, but the store’s Facebook page is still being flooded with angry comments.  (The backlash has been so sustained and persistent that the store has limited who can post on its comments, but that hasn’t slowed the criticism.)

The Hendersonville store, which counts Republican congressman Madison Cawthorn among its alumni employees, is a franchise, like many Chick-Fil-A locations, and runs independently of the chain’s parent organization.

Replying to the backlash, the store said in a post: “Thanks for everyone’s concern on this matter. This is a volunteer-based opportunity, which means people can opt-in to volunteer if they think it’s a good fit for them. We’ve had multiple people sign up and enjoy doing it and have done it multiple times. People who sign up for this chose it voluntarily. We are still hiring full-time and part-time team members, so if you are interested in working in our store, we pay $19/hr.”

Hendersonville sits about 30 miles south of Asheville. The community is known for its wineries and breweries and an extensive number of Airbnb homes for travelers to the area.

Almost a third of U.K. workers plan to take on a second job to help pay the bills and cope with the harshest cost-of-living crisis in memory, according to new research.

A national survey of 2,000 workers by Indeed Flex, an online marketplace for flexible employment, found that 32% of people plan to do temporary work on top of their existing job to boost their income.

Of those polled, 19% already have a second, temporary job. Another 11% plan to take on a few more shifts and 8% want a lot more shifts, the survey found.

The figures underline the scale of the squeeze some households are facing as basic living costs rocket far faster than wages.

Food prices are climbing at more than 8%, and regulated energy bills are expected to rise by a further 60% in October to over £3,000 — a total increase of about 150% in a year. Prices at the petrol pump have also hit record highs.

Wages, meanwhile, are falling in real terms at the fastest rate on record as pay fails to track inflation, now at a 40-year high of 9.4%.

“Our research reveals that many workers have sold unwanted clothing and household goods to bring in extra cash, but temporary work is a more reliable source of income,” said Novo Constare, chief operating officer and co-founder of Indeed Flex. “The financial benefits of temping have been thrust center stage. Temping offers an instant way for them to top up their earning power.”

Workers in London are the most likely to take up a temporary job. Almost a fifth, 17%, of those planning to do temp work as a result of the rising cost of living are in the capital, while 12% are in North West England, 11% in the South East, and 10% in the West Midlands. 

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