The Postal Service’s next generation of delivery vehicles (NGDVs) just hit another speed bump. The United Auto Workers and the National Resources Defense Council announced a joint lawsuit against the United States Postal Service targeting Oshkosh Defense’s contract to build the next wave of mail trucks. The organizations say the contract was awarded based on flimsy environmental review data and is a slap in the face to union-represented Oshkosh workers.
16 state attorneys general have since signed on to the lawsuit opposing the contract, which alleges that the $11.3 billion-dollar contract awarded to Oshkosh in February was awarded using an incomplete Environmental Impact Statement required by federal environmental law. According to the UAW/NRDC complaint, the contract was awarded based on a draft EIS that only included the environmental impacts of operating the vehicles, but not of manufacturing them.
Further, senior officials at the complainant agencies alleged that what the draft EIS did cover, it covered poorly. Britt Carmon, federal clean vehicles senior advocate at the NRDC, excoriated the Postal Service’s review in a statement, calling it an “error-filled, flimsy analysis” and calling for investment in electric vehicles instead of the 10% electric fleet the current contract promises.
“Let’s be frank: The Postal Service can save money and cut pollution by investing in electric trucks,” said Carmon. “The Postal Service must undertake the accurate and thorough environmental review it should have done the first time.”
USPS spokesperson Kim Frum, in an email to the Washington Post, responded to the criticism by saying that the Postal Service had fully complied with the law by conducting “a robust and thorough review.”
In addition to the lawsuit, which officially criticizes the contract for its 10% EV makeup and the issues with the EIS, the UAW took the opportunity to criticize the job-making benefits Oshkosh claims will arise from the work. The largest auto union in the country is upset at Oshkosh’s move to manufacture the contracted vehicles at a new location in Spartanburg, South Carolina, instead of its unionized headquarters in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Oshkosh has responded by saying that it couldn’t find enough workers to build the massive contract in Wisconsin, but its critics in the UAW characterize the move as a betrayal of its unionized workforce.
“We can and should build the postal vehicle here in Wisconsin and create good-paying union jobs that our next generation needs,” UAW Local 578 Bob Lynk said in a statement.
The 10-year, multibillion-dollar contract was awarded with the intent to help revive the USPS’ aging fleet of delivery vans, some of which have been in service for three decades and lack modern features like air conditioning or heating. The contract also contains an option for the USPS to continue buying vehicles after the 10-year period runs out.
Oshkosh Defense announced in March that the USPS had placed its first order for 50,000 of the new vehicles for $2.98 billion: If the lawsuit fails to delay existing plans, the new trucks are expected to deploy as soon as next year.