And It’s Got Air

Michael O. Foster

August 27, 2021

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(This article first appeared in the September-October issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

The Motor Vehicle Service Craft members who were around in the 1990s vividly remember the craft’s struggles to have our transportation vehicles equipped with air conditioning. The parties entered into the first air conditioning Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) during the 1998 – 2000 Collective Bargaining Agreement, and agreed that contracts would specify air conditioning for vehicles domiciled in specific areas of the country.

The parties formed a committee, and the committee was to rely on the heat/humidity index information and industry norms in making their recommendations by no later than March 1999. The MOU Air Conditioning in 9-Ton Vehicles, Tractors, and Spotters was followed in 1999 by the Air Conditioning in Postal Vehicle Service Motor Vehicles MOU, which included air conditioning in all vehicles for all future purchases. The progress and the health and welfare of the employees has advanced a long way since the 1990s due to the concerns and complaints voiced by the APWU and its members.

In the largest capital investment in USPS history, APWU MVS representatives participated in the Production Design Review (PDR) of the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV), held on the Oshkosh Defense campus in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in mid-July. Replacing the current fleet with these vehicles, scheduled for completion in the latter part of 2023, will mean that the Postal Service has completely upgraded their transportation and delivery fleet.

The NGDV will replace the Long-Life Vehicle (LLV), first introduced into the postal fleet in the mid-1980s (with the life expectancy of approximately 20 years). The Postal Service awarded the $482 million initial contract to Oshkosh Defense, which is the first stage of a multi-billiondollar, 10-year effort to manufacture a new generation of delivery vehicles. Oshkosh Defense will assemble 50,000 to 165,000 NGDVs in a facility they will set-up in Spartanburg, South Carolina, a so-called “right-to-work” state (read more here).

Production of the NGDV will start rolling off the assembly line in late 2023. The Next Generation Delivery Vehicle will be a right-hand-drive vehicle for mail and package delivery. The vehicles will be equipped with either fuel-efficient internal combustion engines or battery electric powertrains, and can be retrofitted to keep pace with advances in electric vehicle technologies. The vehicles will include heating and air conditioning, 360-degree cameras, advanced braking and traction control, air bags, front- and rear-collision avoidance that includes visual and audio warnings, and improved ergonomics, just to name a few of the most advanced vehicle’s technologies.

The APWU already stressed to upper postal management officials responsible for the production of this vehicle the importance of training, equipping of the VMF employees with the proper tools to perform timely repairs, and ensuring the safety conditions of this fleet for years to come. The NGDV will have an increased cargo capacity to maximize efficiency and better accommodate higher package volumes. The main reason for the need for this type of vehicle is from the explosion of packaged mail into the postal network, and the USPS attempt to keep up with competitors in the timely delivery of packages. The Postal Service fleet has more than 230,000 vehicles in every class, including commercial-off-the-shelf vehicles. The NGDV, along with other commercial vehicles, will replace and expand the current 190,000-vehicle delivery fleet. This purchase of the NGDV has allowed meaningful input during the early development stages from the unions of the employees who will be responsible for the driving, delivery of mail, and repair of these vehicles, unlike the purchases of the transportation vehicles where the MVS Craft is only allowed to participate during the final development stages of the assembling of the vehicles known as the First Article Testing (FAT).

Representatives of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) and the National Rural Letter Carriers Association (NRLCA) participated in the PDR, and also participating were the National and Assistant MVS Directors, Eastern Region NBA Garrett Langley, and selected MVS members from the field (William Drew – Boston, Dale Cornelius – Chicago, Mike Crum – Harrisburg, Anthony Morson – Detroit, Faron Williamson – Omaha).

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