The Postal Service’s Next Generation of Trucks Must Be Electric—And Union-Made

The Postal Service has a major opportunity to mitigate the climate crisis, clean up our air, and create good union jobs. As their current truck fleet ages, they’re looking to replace the vehicles with a “next-generation fleet.” That fleet – the largest of all federal agencies’ –  could be composed of 100 percent electric vehicles made by union labor in our communities, protecting our climate and our lungs. 

But Trump appointee Louis DeJoy wants to continue to use gas-powered trucks instead, so that our neighborhoods remain full of vehicle pollution, and our atmosphere full of the carbon pollution that is rapidly heating the earth. He’s even prepared to let the truck manufacturer Oshkosh, which won the lucrative contract to create the USPS’s new fleet, to get away with highly questionable labor practices. 

That’s why the Sierra Club and our allies joined forces this week to deliver over 150,000 petitions to the United States Postal Service Board of Governors and over 280,000 emails to Congress urging the USPS reconsider their current plan and update their nationwide fleet with electric, union-built vehicles. We’re also asking Congress to confirm two new members of the Postal Service Board, the only body with the power to oust disastrous leaders like DeJoy.

The Sierra Club and our allies in labor, along with Congressional champions like representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) and Gerry Connolly (VA-11), and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), are determined to get USPS to change course. And our pressure has already had an effect: DeJoy increased the proportion of electric trucks in the USPS’s first order from 10 percent to 20. 

Of course that’s not enough. The trucks the USPS buys will be on the roads for decades. The mail trucks on the road today are an average of 25 years old. If that trend continues, today’s gas-powered trucks would be driving through our neighborhoods until 2047—years past when we need to move to 100 percent zero-emission cars, trucks and buses for the protection of our communities from toxic air and the worsening climate crisis.

“The fact is that electric postal trucks are cheaper and cleaner,” said Senator Ed Markey at the press conference where the signatures were delivered. “A new fleet of electric postal trucks would receive a stamp of approval from the American people, as it would lower costs, reduce pollution, and provide public health benefits. Switching our postal fleet to all-electric would also cut our demand for the oil and gas business model that funds Putin’s oligarchs. If we don’t get a truly next-generation electric fleet of postal trucks, we need the next generation of postal service leadership delivered express to the American people.”

We can’t wait any longer to begin the transition to a clean, zero-emission transportation system. The latest UN climate report made it clear that we have only a narrow window of time in which to avoid catastrophic climate change. We have to make a rapid and deep transition away from fossil fuels in every domain, or we will quickly reach a point where no amount of mitigation, adaptation, or financing will be able to salvage the climate. Electrifying government vehicles should be an easy place to start. 

Our government should be seizing every opportunity to move the clean energy transition forward with union labor to help rebuild the middle class and help families pay their bills. But DeJoy is ready to do the opposite. He awarded a multi-billion-dollar contract to build the USPS’s next generation of trucks to a Wisconsin-based company called Oshkosh. Oshkosh’s Wisconsin workforce, highly skilled union workers, were ready and eager to begin the job when they learned that Oshkosh would be moving production to a non-union facility in right-to-work state South Carolina. 

“I can’t wrap my head around the fact it’s 2022 and we are having to argue for a common-sense decision like replacing the outdated, polluting mail fleet with electric vehicles built by union workers,” says Sierra Club president Ramón Cruz.

Follow us on social media @SierraClub to hear what comes next in the fight for clean, union-made postal trucks.