Postal worker cooks steak on truck dashboard to showcase 'inhumane' working conditions during extreme heat

A state representative is calling for improvements in postal workers’ “deplorable” working conditions seeing a mail carrier demonstrate how hot mail trucks get by cooking a steak on his dashboard.

Shawnna Bolick, a member of the Arizona House of Reps. (District 20), sent a letter to the president of the American Postal Workers Union, Mark Dimondstein on Thursday, urging him to look into the heat-related issue. In her letter, she explained how a worker had sent her daily updates, and photographs of a digital thermometer and the cooking steak, to show how hot his truck gets.

“Over the past several weeks, his mail delivery truck has averaged about 128 degrees Fahrenheit inside his vehicle,” the letter reads. “This past weekend he conducted an experiment and cooked a steak to an internal temperature of medium (142 degrees) not fully thawed at 10am on his dashboard from 10am until 12:30pm.”

A mail carrier cooked a steak on his truck's dashboard. (Photo: Courtesy of Rep. Shawnna Bolick)
A mail carrier cooked a steak on his truck's dashboard. (Photo: Courtesy of Rep. Shawnna Bolick)

According to Bolick’s letter, stifling mail trucks present a widespread issue, and “quite a few” other USPS employees have also been impacted by the heat — some have been “sent to the emergency room to deal with heat stroke and heat exhaustion,” with a few carriers even getting hospitalized for several days.

In her letter, she urged Dimondstein to review past safety and incident reports to improve postal carriers’ working conditions.

“Right now they are inhumane,” she wrote.

Bolick tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she has been contacted by postal carriers from states across the country, including Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois and New Mexico.

“They have all shared with me [that] while Arizona has the horrific heat issues in our extreme summer heat, their trucks are also hot,” she says, while “mail carriers in colder climates have the same issue in the winter months, but they are cold.”

Bolick recommends “moving up” morning start times in Arizona to allow carriers to work later in the day, which would help avoid afternoon heat. However, she stresses she is aware that this is not a state issue, and wants the “workers in Arizona enduring the extreme heat” to know that she is trying to elevate the issue to a national level.

“I think sending a letter to the union representing these workers, along with the USPS representatives, should get the conversation going,” Bolick says.

Though representatives from USPS did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment, a statement provided to ABC 15 explained how the postal service has measures in place to ensure the safety of mail carriers.

"We want to emphasize the Postal Service works to protect its employees all year through a strong health and safety program,” the statement reads. “This includes instructions on messaging through the handheld carrier scanners, frequent service talks on recognizing heat illnesses and taking shade or hydration, and street supervision that checks on carriers during the day. Our letter carriers work hard and we appreciate that effort in all conditions."

Representatives from the American Postal Workers Union did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment.

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