Vehicle Maintenance Training Update

Michael O. Foster

January 8, 2024

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We hope you had safe and enjoyable holidays and made it through Peak Season once again.

The Motor Vehicle Service Division (MVS) achieved language during the last contract negotiations that established the MVS Training Initiative Committee. The Memorandum of Understanding required that training committee meetings be held for Vehicle Maintenance Facility (VMF) employees and the Postal Vehicle Service. We have met consistently to achieve training goals that benefit our craft, however the Postal Service has been reluctant to move forward with those needs that we believe are necessary to improve and enhance the skills of our members.

For many years, the Postal Service has been unable to host trainings at the National Center for Career Development (NCCD) for VMF technicians and mechanics. Some employees have been working in VMFs for over 10 years and have never received structured training. This has been a major concern for employees who need training on the many new and updated vehicles that our members are expected to maintain and repair every day. The training needs of VMF employees have gone unfulfilled due to the lack of formal training programs and low staffing levels in the VMFs.

The new VMF training center is located on the grounds of the NCCD in Norman, OK. The facility will be capable of training on all the vehicles in the postal fleet, including tandem axle tractors and battery electric vehicles (EVs). It will have 12 bay doors for hands-on training and multiple classrooms for lectures. Instructors at the facility will be capable of teaching proper air conditioning repair and maintenance, as well as other highly complex systems on modern day vehicles, so that VMFs can repair those systems. It will also be capable of training on the new battery EV systems, as a large portion of the fleet will be electric and the need for proper training is extremely important.

The need for training does not end with newer vehicles, but also for the current ageing fleet. The need for training on Metris, Ram Promasters, International tractors, Peterbilt straight and Ottawa spotter trucks is extremely important. With training unavailable, downtime and the contracting out of those vehicles has increased, creating additional problems for technicians that diagnose and repair them. The training for all these vehicle types can be done in this new facility.

The new facility is slated to be completed in spring of 2024. This is extremely important as additional new model vehicles continue to be added to the fleet, training needs continue to increase, and the current fleet accrues more wear and tear.

We should recognize that local fleet management may be reluctant to send technicians and mechanics to the new facility, due to a perceived loss of productivity in the VMF while they attend training, as well as budgetary constraints for such training. The acquired knowledge from the training could, in the long term, offset those hours with quicker diagnoses and less frustration for the technicians.

VMF training will be provided on a fair and equitable basis, in accordance with service needs, with first consideration given to employees who volunteer for training. We encourage VMF technicians and mechanics to volunteer for training and hold management to those obligations.

We will continue to fight for training and advancement opportunities in the MVS Division. ■

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