At ODDS with USPS on DOT Changes

Michael O. Foster

November 17, 2020

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(This article first appeared in the November/December 2020 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

The APWU disagrees with the USPS on recent changes to the Department of Transportation (DOT) Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) physicals, and the establishment of a Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, a database administered by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA). The Clearinghouse will contain information about violations of the FMCSA’s drug and alcohol testing for CDL operators, which includes Postal CDL operators. The Clearinghouse procedures are required by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

These disputes are examples of the problems encountered when the USPS contracts out responsibilities that should be performed by postal employees.

The union received notification of the changes for CDL employees in May 2020. The Postal Service contracted with Caduceus USA Medical Services (Caduceus) to replace multiple contracts they held with various medical providers. The USPS notified the APWU that they will schedule DOT physicals appointments through Caduceus. We challenged these changes as necessary subjects of bargaining prior to the decisions being made.

Through its contract with Caduceus, the Postal Service has violated two settlement agreements: Case Number Q15V-4Q-C 18046276/HQTV20170529 (Oct. 23, 2019 agreement), and Case Number Q10V-4Q-C 16367308/ HQTV20160209 (May 15, 2020 agreement). The APWU initiated a Step 4 national dispute addressing violations. An October 23 Agreement resolved several disputes regarding the Postal Service’s administration of the DOT physical examination of employees. Among the settled issues was whether postal employees would be required to sign forms authorizing the release of medical records to the Postal Service when reporting for their DOT physicals.

The parties agreed that:

The FMCSA does not require the medical examiner to provide a copy of the medical examination report to the employer, therefore employees will not be required to sign a release for medical records.

The Postal Service’s contract with Caduceus also subjects postal employees to an additional level of medical review that is clearly prohibited by the October 23 agreement. According to the agreement, when an employee is found medically fit by a certified examiner, there is no further review necessary. Despite this agreed-upon limitation on the review process, the Postal Service’s contract with Caduceus unilaterally imposes new review requirements on employees.

When the DOT physical appointment is complete, the medical examiner is instructed not to discuss the determination (Qualified/Not Qualified/Conditional) with the employee, but fax the DOT Card to Caduceus. Caduceus will send the DOT Card to the employee’s supervisor, who will deliver it to the employee.

Another national dispute was settled on May 15 related to the Postal Service’s policy toward DOT and FMCSA medical examination requirements. In the Agreement, the parties agreed that the USPS would “instruct the medical contract unit performing the Department of Transportation (DOT) medical examinations that all drivers holding a CDL are excluded from the DOT interstate requirements, and the only CDL requirement for Motor Vehicle Service (MVS) positions is an intrastate CDL, provided the driver has self-certified to their state.”

Wishing everyone a safe and Happy Holiday Season!

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrative Clearinghouse

The Postal Service provided a letter in late April 2020 to inform employees with a CDL that Congress directed the Secretary of Transportation to establish a new program named “Clearinghouse.”

The Clearinghouse is a secure online database providing employers, state licensing agencies, and enforcement officers with real-time information about CDL holders’ violations of the DOT drug and alcohol testing rules. The APWU submitted multiple requests for information about the FMCSA Clearinghouse rules and regulations plus consent forms.

Before the parties could meaningfully discuss the form, USPS program management began using the consent form and requiring MVS drivers to sign it or risk being disqualified from their job. The union has filed a Step 4 national dispute to demand to bargain over the Clearinghouse consent form and the underlying program they implemented.

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