U.S. lawmakers ask Oshkosh for documents on USPS vehicle contract

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A U.S. Postal Service (USPS) truck is pictured in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., August 21, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

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WASHINGTON, March 18 (Reuters) - A group of U.S. lawmakers led by House Oversight chair Carolyn Maloney asked Oshkosh Corp (OSK.N) if it sought to avoid using union workers by deciding to build the next-generation U.S. Postal Service delivery vehicles in South Carolina.

Maloney and three other lawmakers want documents by April 1 from Oshkosh detailing the decision not to build the vehicles in Wisconsin and want the company to explain how quickly and how many electric delivery vehicles it can build.

The 10-year contract with Oshkosh's Defense unit makes an initial $482 million investment, but it could be worth $6 billion or more for the unit to build up to 165,000 next-generation delivery vehicles.

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Oshkosh said Friday it concluded South Carolina "would best meet the needs of this important program" and added hiring and facility preparations are well underway "to ensure Oshkosh will meet contractual deadlines for vehicle production to begin in 2023."

The United Auto Workers union and some Democrats in Congress have been extremely critical of Oshkosh's decision to build the vehicles in South Carolina.

"Workers and the environment are relying on USPS and the Biden administration to take every possible step to ensure public dollars protect our next generation," UAW President Ray Curry said last month.

On Monday, Maloney and four other lawmakers asked the Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) to review USPS's plan to buy a new fleet of primarily gasoline-powered delivery vehicles from Oshkosh, a plan that has come under fire from the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The inspector general's office said Thursday it "will be doing additional work in response to that request." OIG said in a report that EVs could be a "good option" on many USPS routes.

USPS said its commitment to "an electric fleet remains ambitious given the pressing vehicle and safety needs of our aging fleet as well as our fragile financial condition."

Oshkosh said Friday it can make any mix of vehicles USPS wants - up to 100% electric models.

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Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Tim Ahmann Editing by Chris Reese, Tim Ahmann and Bernard Orr

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