Service & Solidarity Spotlight: Phoenix Passes Landmark Rule Requiring Heat Protection for Outdoor Workers

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our Service & Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

The Phoenix City Council unanimously passed an ordinance last week that will provide protections from extreme heat for thousands of outdoor workers in the hottest city in the United States.

The rule requires employers to provide workers access to shade from the sun, rest, water and air conditioning as well as training on recognizing signs of heat stress. This will apply to city contractors and their subcontractors who work outdoors, including airport and construction workers. Its passage was aided by a citywide campaign led by members of UNITE HERE Local 11, SEIU’s Airport Workers United, and other labor and community organizations.

Currently, there are no federal standards that protect outdoor workers from extreme heat, making this ordinance game-changing for an issue that is literally life or death. In 2023, heat killed 340 people in Phoenix and 645 people in Maricopa County. Three out of four of those fatalities took place outdoors.