MVS Updates: Mercedes First Article Testing Concerns, CBD Impacts on Drug Testing & DOT Clearinghouse for Drug & Alcohol Testing Violations
February 28, 2020
Just two months into the new year, and the Motor Vehicle Service Craft Division has been hard at work with several updates for the membership. Of primary issue are the Department of Transportation’s changes impacting MVS Operators with Commercial Drivers Licensing. More information will be provided, pending further discussions and meetings with the USPS.
Here are the notable updates:
FAT Testing Concerns for Mercedes Metris RHD Van
In mid-January, MVS APWU representatives attended the First Article Testing of the Mercedes Metris Right Hand Drive Van resulting in several concerns. The main issue for the testers was visibility. On January 28, MVS Director Michael O. Foster sent a detailed list of concerns that must be addressed by the USPS, per Article 39.3.B. The USPS responded on February 12, 2020. They provided an explanation for each issue and committed to making appropriate adjustments. Special thanks to MVS National Business Agent Bruce Amey, PVS Operator & South Carolina Postal Workers Union President Nate Walker, and VMF Lead Tech Timothy Schwarzbauer from the Upper Piedmont Area Local.
USPS Warns Employees to “Use caution when considering whether to use CBD products”
On February 20, the MVS Division received a general interest notice regarding the Department of Transportation’s announcement concerning the use of Cannabidiol products. In pertinent part, the letter states, “DOT requires testing for marijuana and not CBD. However, the use of CBD products could lead to a positive drug test result…employees should use caution when considering whether to use CBD products.”
Congress creates a “Clearinghouse” impacting MVS Operators with CDLs
By notice dated February 20, the USPS informed APWU of its compliance with a recent act of Congress that has established a drug and alcohol "Clearinghouse". The Clearinghouse is a secure online database providing employers, state licensing agencies, and enforcement officers with real-time information about commercial driver's license (CDL) holders' violations of the Department of Transportation (DOT) drug or alcohol testing rules. The USPS notice states:
The Postal Service is required to query the Clearinghouse for current and prospective employees' drug and alcohol violations. The Postal Service is required to annually query the Clearinghouse for each driver they currently employ. Employees will be required to sign a consent to allow the Postal Service to run the annual query. (See 49 CFR 382. 701 (b)). The Postal Service anticipates to run the first query in late 2020.
January 23, 2020The APWU and Postal Service’s history regarding the Service’s decision to follow Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations dates back to 1995.
Despite policy stating that DOT physicals would be scheduled by postal management, occur on the clock at a Medical Unit or Contract Medical Facility, and be paid for by the USPS, issues surfaced from the field concerning payment and scheduling of the different tests required to certify PVS driver eligibility to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
Additional problems surfaced when USPS area doctors and local transportation managers started implementing unilateral changes to the FMCSA regulations for CDL employees.
Consequently, the APWU filed several Step 4 National Disputes.
On Oct. 23, 2019, the parties entered into a Step 4 Settlement Agreement with respect to the Postal Service’s administration of the DOT and FMCSA policy regarding annual physicals for employees holding a commercial driver’s license (CDL) as a requirement of their position.
The following are notable excerpts from the Settlement: The Postal Service will follow Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations regarding the administration of CDLs. Postal employees whose position requires a CDL must maintain their medical certification in accordance with DOT and the FMCSA…
When required, medical exams related to an employee’s CDL will be scheduled with a DOT/FMCSA certified examiner at no cost to the employee. Any additional medical testing and/or exams, required to determine an employee’s suitability in connection with a DOT/FMCSA medical exam, will be paid for by the Postal Service until an initial determination is made. If the employee is found medically unfit, the employee will be responsible for the cost of any treatment and/or medical test or appointments he/she obtains, including medical information used to dispute the determination. If the employee is found medically fit by the certified examiner there is no further review necessary.
An employee may appeal an adverse result of a certifying examination as outlined in the Joint Contract Interpretation Manual (JCIM), Article 39.
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…
An employee’s Social Security Number will not be required during employees DOT/FMCSA medical exam process.
Schedule Examiner Vehicle Runs (SEVR) is Bargaining Unit Work
In Case No. Q10V-4Q-C 15292655 Arbitrator Das upheld that there is no dispute between the parties over the fact that SEVR work is bargaining unit work, which the Employer may not assign to non-bargaining unit personnel. Accordingly, it violates the National Agreement for the USPS to permit supervisors in the field to shift SEVR work to non-bargaining unit personnel.
During pre-arbitration discussions, the APWU and the USPS entered into a Step 4 Settlement Agreement. The following are notable excerpts:
In the national arbitration case Q-10V-4Q-C 15292655, the Postal Service confirmed that, “…Schedule Examiner work is bargaining unit work, and that supervisors (and EAS employees) cannot perform bargaining unit work unless one of the exceptions provided for in Article 1.6 applies.”…
Accordingly, the parties agree that the Schedule Examiner Vehicle Runs position is a best qualified position within the Motor Vehicle Craft bargaining unit whose primary duties and responsibilities are listed in the Positions Description and Qualification Standards. It is appropriate to post these duty assignments for bid when they become vacant when there is sufficient work hours to justify a full-time assignment. In the event that local management determines that there are insufficient work hours to justify a full-time duty assignment, these duties must still be performed by bargaining unit employees of the MVS Craft.
(This article first appeared in the November/December 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine) â
Motor Vehicle Service members are joining in the fight, protecting the craft, and demanding proper pay and work rules during the APWU’s interest arbitration proceedings.
During the session from Sept. 24 through 26, Director Foster explained that both Tractor Trailer Operators (TTOs) and Motor Vehicle Operators (MVOs) are required to maintain a commercial driver’s license and must comply with federal Department of Transportation (DOT) rules and regulations. TTOs are also required to have a Class A endorsement to operate a combination vehicle, while MVOs are required to maintain a Class B endorsement for vehicles five tons and above with air brakes.
PVS drivers are required to undergo random urinalysis drug and alcohol screenings at DOT clinics. MVS employees are some of the safest commercial drivers in the United States.
Director Foster further testified that vehicle maintenance employees work at Vehicle Maintenance Facilities (VMF and maintain the entire postal fleet of approximately 232,602 vehicles.
The majority of VMF employees are automotive technicians found on levels 8, 9, and 10 of the pay scale. They perform routine and complex repairs and maintenance on all types of motor vehicles used in the postal fleet, from tractor trailers to sedans. Because they repair, maintain, and test drive tractors and large cargo trucks, many of our automotive technicians maintain CDLs with air brake endorsement. VMF technicians are supported by a range of employees, from Mechanics, Garagemen, Body and Fender Repairmen, Tire Repairmen and their own clerical employees.
Following Director Foster’s presentation and testimony, he introduced ten MVS members who traveled from around the country to Washington, DC to testify in the proceedings. They are Motor Vehicle Operators, Tractor Trailer Operators, Lead and Automotive Technicians and Storekeepers.
Both TTOs and MVOs gave testimony explaining that they are more than just delivery van drivers, and that they perform a wide variety of work with vast responsibilities. Much of their work is performed with little to no supervision at all, trusted to make daily decisions that ordinary delivery drivers rarely do.
In addition, our Postal Vehicle Service (PVS) drivers testified that besides safety, one of their main concerns is the Postal Service and its customers as they transport a significant amount of mail and revenue in the back of their trucks. As previous PVS panels have done, they left the Interest Arbitration Panel with a clear sense of the value PVS is to the Postal Service and the communities it serves.
Following the PVS panel, Director Foster introduced panelists from the Vehicle Maintenance Facilities. VMF employees testified that they work with vehicles of all makes and models. Their work is so diverse that one day they might be working on the transmission of a Ford and the next day the engine of Dodge Ram. Additionally, much of the postal fleet is so old that replacement parts are often difficult to find, making the work that much more challenging.
Without the testimony of our APWU panelist members, the Postal Service would paint a picture less favorable to the union’s position. There is no question, after hearing testimony from Postal Service’s Chief Operating Officer, that the Postal Service would prefer to portray the Motor Vehicle Craft as nothing more than delivery drivers and Jiffy Lube oil-changers.
There is no question that the diversity and professionalism of the MVS Craft members represents a bargain to the Postal Service as the Motor Vehicle Service Craft is the essential link that ties mail processing and customer service together.
The MVS Division officers would like to commend the Motor Vehicle Service Craft panelists for their presentation and willingness to assist our craft in the integral process of interest arbitration.
Many thanks to those who testified: Tiwanna Rogers, Michael Nazzaro, Auvelio Connor, Christina Smith, William Santiago, Michael McDonald, Luis Fabila, Mervin Gooch, Wade Jackson, and Leo Wesolowski.
Recently, the USPS conducted an automotive mail haul pilot program test for a 1,000-mile trip between Phoenix and Dallas. From Bloomberg to NPR, headlines read, “USPS is Testing Self-Driving Trucks.”
The results of this pilot have not been shared with the public or the Union, something that the MVS Department is greatly concerned about and have demanded a meeting on. Furthermore, the Postal Service has said that “this pilot is just one of many ways the Postal Service is innovating and investing in its future.”
Automated commercial vehicles and hauling is not an investment in the safety of citizens on the road, professional TTO/MVO drivers, or an investment in the future of USPS skilled labor.
But there is something you can do about it: Submit a comment or concern to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration calling for for regulation of automated vehicles for the safety of drivers, citizens, and the future of our jobs!
Comments will ONLY be accepted on or before July 29, 2019, and can be submitted using docket number FMCSA-2018-0037 or NHTSA-2019-0036 at regulations.gov.
“Big corporations are attempting to substitute automation for skilled and professional drivers. It is up to all of us: Members, officers, the Grand Alliance and the whole community, to request the FMCSA take a serious review,” said Motor Vehicle Service Director Michael O. Foster, “The requirements for these tests should be at least as stringent as the requirements for a professional driver operating commercial vehicles on the streets with our families and the public at risk.”
“When the USPS requested an exemption for the Hours of Service (HOS), that the Highway Route Contractors (HCRs) could operate - on the same streets and highways that these driverless vehicles propose to operate on - we asked our friends and network to comment and list their concerns - they did and it made a difference,” Director Foster continued.
“These changes will affect people’s lives and the safety of our streets. The rules and conditions that would allow an automated driverless commercial motor vehicle to operate must be thoroughly investigated and regulated,” he cautioned.
(This article first appeared in the March/April 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
By MVS Division Director Michael O. Foster
In early 2018, the USPS began deploying new cargo trucks and spotters, on a one-for-one replacement of the trucks in use at the time. The Postal Service continues to replace its aging fleet, and tractors are next in line. Many of the current tractors have over 1 million miles and are on their last leg.
On Jan. 29-31, in South Bend, IN, the APWU attended the First Article Testing (FAT) the Postal Service conducted on the Cab-Behind-Engine (CBE) tractor trailers, built by Navistar International Trucks, formerly International Harvester Company.
Several of our MVS Craft representatives across the country braved record inclement weather to participate in the FAT, which included an opportunity to observe and operate the test vehicles. The opinion of the APWU team members is these vehicles appear to be a welcome improvement to the Postal fleet.
The initial purchase of 1579 CBE vehicles includes 1040 single-axle tractors and 539 tandem-axle tractors. A second purchase order of 221 Cab-Over-Engine (COE) tractors will follow shortly. The replacement of the tractors, as was the case with the cargo trucks, will be a one-for-one replacement beginning sometime in the middle of May 2019.
These vehicles are equipped with a keyless entry system and a separate keyless start system in addition to the oldfashioned key entry and start system. The keyless system will take some time to get used to, as it comes equipped with certain features requiring initial training.
These modern-day tractors are also equipped with an ‘On Command Connection’ (OCC) system which has the capacity to store information in the cloud.
The Postal Service also had the manufacturer install the ‘Bendix Wingman Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control” with collision mitigation and stationary object alert. This system will assist the driver with collision avoidance by sounding a buzzer and a red signal on the dashboard if the driver is too close, or 1.5 seconds from a moving vehicle or stationary object.
The items of concern that the APWU team representatives brought to the Postal Service’s attention for the CBE tractors can be viewed here. We identified a serious concern with the coupling and uncoupling of the tractor and trailer. Navistar and the Postal Service promised to provide the APWU with a video demonstrating the various angles and conditions our drivers regularly experience when coupling and uncoupling the two vehicles.
Electric – Is it the Future?
On Jan. 16-17, First Article Testing was held in Milpitas, CA for the ‘Intermediate Delivery 2-Ton Step’ Van – an allelectric vehicle.
This vehicle is a prototype tested for a one-year period only in California. This is a project between the Postal Service and CALSTART, a non-profit organization working nationally and internationally with business and governments to develop clean, efficient transportation solutions.
This is a regular standard delivery two-ton postal vehicle, where the manufacturer, Cummins Inc. (EDI), replaced the combustion engine with an all-electric direct drive system requiring no shifting other than to go forward or backwards.
This is a high voltage vehicle that operates at over 400 volts. It is equipped with two battery packs; each pack has seven batteries weighing 165 pounds each.
Surprisingly, the vehicle passed all criteria requirements and exceeded its requirements in many areas, despite being fully loaded with over 3700 pounds.
Some of the drawbacks for this particular vehicle were:
High-voltage batteries requiring 8-9 hours to fully charge
A total driving distance of only 77-100 miles when fully charged
The vehicles will be tested for a year, before any purchasing decisions will be made.
Participants in the FATs were members and officers from around the country. We would like to thank:
Felix Colon – Puget Sound Area Local
Marvin Smith – Atlanta Metro Area Local
Kermit Chatman – Detroit District Area Local
Ray Scanlon – Baltimore Francis Stu Fibley Area Local
Jerome Pittman – Western MVS NBA
Joseph LaCapria – Northeast MVS NBA
Javier Piñeres – Assistant Director MVS
Major Win for the MVS Craft - POM 1995 Language Restored
WEB NEWS ARTICLE #:
09/13/2018 - When the USPS made changes to Chapters 5 and 7 of the Postal Operations Manual (POM) in 1995, APWU challenged the changes as not fair, reasonable, and equitable. While USPS agreed to restore the language in 2007 and again in 2012, they never did. APWU never stopped fighting. On August 28, we reached an agreement with the USPS to restore the language within 12 weeks. "This language is significant because it protects work that is presently being performed in the MVS Craft," said Michael Foster, Motor Vehicle Service (MVS) Division Director.
In addition to winning the fight to restore POM language, APWU MVS teams reached an agreement for the Holiday Peak Season Exception Periods. The previous Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for MVS was signed as part of the 2015-2018 CBA, and will expire September 20 with the CBA. A new MOU was necessary to ensure our full rights are upheld during the holiday season. APWU negotiators were able to reach a fair deal with the USPS. Under the new MOU, the Peak Season Exception Period will run from November 10, 2018 - Jan 4, 2019, and the USPS is required to "make every effort to ensure that available MVS craft PTFs are utilized at the straight-time rate prior to assigning such work to MVAs."
(This article first appeared in the May-June 2018 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine)
By Motor Vehicle Service Craft Directors
New USPS cargo trucks and spotters were scheduled to begin deployment in April. The Postal Service conducted the First Article Testing (FAT) on the Ottawa Spotters and the Peterbilt 18' and 24' cab-over and cab behind engines. The spotters were tested in Ottawa, KS and the cargo trucks were tested in New Carlisle, IN.
The purchase of these vehicles is scheduled to be one-for-one replacements of the present spotters and cargo trucks. In the opinion of the MVS operators who drove them daily, the replacement is long overdue. The normal replacement cycle of postal vehicles is eight years for trucks and 12 years for trailers. Many of these vehicles have over 1,000,000 miles, which is virtually unheard of in intra-city transportation, or the Postal Service.
According to Article 39.3.B, the union has the opportunity to participate in the FAT and submit our observations within 14 days (copy of the Cargo Truck letter can be found on apwu.org).
Various authorized APWU MVS Craft representatives from around the country participated in the FAT by observing and driving the new vehicles at both locations. Their overall opinions were that these trucks are a vast improvement over the present fleet and, with proper training and upkeep, should serve the USPS and our customers for years to come.
Among the issues that the APWU representatives brought to the Postal Service’s attention for the spotters were:
Replace the bracket for the Glad Hand holders,
Replace the ¼ fenders with full flexible fenders,
Concern with the spacing between the mud guard and the rear tire,
Set the air cut off to 130 PSI (it is presently set at 120 PSI).
The testing for cargo trucks was a more in-depth process. For the first time, cameras and pictures were not allowed because these tests were conducted on the NaviStar testing grounds. In the past, the union has always been allowed to take pictures of postal equipment.
We identified the following issues with the cargo trucks:
No cargo lights in the cargo area,
Rear area of the box is missing the two-foot diamond plate (the drivers may slip and lose balance),
Fill floor gap drain channel at rear door to prevent equipment wheels from getting stuck,
Cab-over model will cause some discomfort for our larger drivers.
With the purchase of the new vehicles, the union hopes that someone in authority at USPS headquarters realizes the value of the PVS operators to the Postal Service and will abandon their efforts to contract us out.