Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday joined with labor leaders and climate action advocates outside the U.S. Postal Service headquarters, where they demanded that the Louis DeJoy-led agency rethink its plan to buy new gas-powered delivery trucks and instead commit to a union-made, electric fleet.
"Postmaster DeJoy's contract for thousands of gas-guzzling vehicles cannot go forward."
"A zero-emission fleet would save money and combat the climate crisis," said the BlueGreen Alliance, one of the groups behind the "Build it union, deliver it emission-free" rally in Washington, D.C.
At issue is the USPS contract with Oshkosh Defense to replace its existing vehicles.
The initial order of the 10-year plan for the next generation delivery vehicles (NGDVs) is for 50,000 vehicles, about 10,000 of which will be electric. The whole contract only calls for a minimum of 10% of the vehicles to be electric over the decade period.
Beyond climate and public health concerns—which sparked demands for an inspector general probe into the contract—the revelation that Oshkosh plans to build the trucks not in Wisconsin, where it is based, but in anti-union South Carolina has drawn criticism as well.
Event organizers called the plan to build the trucks "in a newly purchased warehouse in South Carolina... a blatant move by Oshkosh to evade a decades-old contract with UAW workers in Wisconsin who are ready and eager to build the delivery vehicles of the future."
Speakers at the rally—where over 150,000 petitions to the USPS Board of Governors were symbolically delivered—included Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Sierra Club president Ramón Cruz, and UAW vice president Cindy Estrada.
"Outside USPS headquarters this morning to keep up the fight for a new fleet of delivery vehicles that's at least 75% electric," tweeted Connolly, who has proposed a bill to require that. "Postmaster DeJoy's contract for thousands of gas-guzzling vehicles cannot go forward."
The rally came a day after a U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing focused on the environmental and cost benefits of the postal fleet switching to electric.
House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who also spoke at Wednesday's rally, pointed in her opening remarks to the hearing to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report out this week underscoring the need to transition away from fossil fuels.
"This Congress must help the world avert a climate disaster by moving from gas guzzlers to electric vehicles now," she said.
This content originally appeared on Common Dreams - Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community and was authored by Andrea Germanos.