MVS News.....Thomas LaFauci, MVS Craft Director
Use of Personal Vehicles While On Duty
Sometimes, postal employees are told by management they should use their personal vehicles to complete their postal duties. Often they convince themselves it’s better to appease a supervisor with the offer to use your personal vehicle justifying it with your personal convenience at the end of your tour
For instance, Window Clerks holding a Pool & Relief assignment may, at times, be required to travel to another station or branch to complete their eight hour tour.
Supervisors know they have to supply you with a ride to your second duty station and back at the end of the tour to cover a window but instead tells you to use your own car so you can leave at the end of your tour from the second station.
You try to protest but are told that others are doing it and if you won’t use your own car, you can’t hold the job. So you do it so you won’t have to deal with an unpleasant supervisor who will make your work life a little bit more miserable.
Ninety-nine percent of the time nothing will happen. The one time something goes wrong may change your life.
If you are involved in an accident while on the clock moving from one station to another, the Postal Service may pay your medical bills through OWCP and may pay for any damage and medical bills to the privately owned vehicle but will NOT pay for the damage sustained by your personal vehicle even if the accident was not your fault.
If your insurance company finds that you were acting within the scope of you employment with the Postal Service, they may have legitimate grounds to deny your insurance claim and/or increase your insurance premiums possibly canceling them all together.
There are no bargaining unit positions in the APWU that requires you to use your personal vehicle for postal business with the exceptions of a Letter Carrier and a Rural Carrier.
The use of their personal vehicles to perform their postal job is written in to the cost of a contract with the Postal Service. It is called “car hire.”
If the Service wanted you to use your vehicle to perform your job, it would have been part of the bid posting!
By doing that supervisor a favor, is it worth the risk of increasing or losing your auto insurance for the measly few cents a mile they offer? I think not. Most times it’s not worth the time it takes to fill the form out to recoup a small number of miles.
The last time I looked, there were well over 8 staff cars idly sitting in the parking lot where the Letter Carriers park their cars. After all, I used to fix them.
Another problem is that you have cooperating employees who will willingly use their own vehicles as a matter of convenience to themselves. This makes it harder for the rest of us to do our jobs.
While the Postal Service is liable for damage to postal-owned or postal leased vehicles, they will turn their backs on the damage to your vehicle if you are involved in an accident.
According to the Postal Service‘s Regional Counsel, Lyman T. Johnston:
“Fault does not enter into whether the Postal Service would pay damages except in determining whether payments are due to the driver or owner of other vehicles involved in the accident or other parties injured in such an accident. The Postal Service is liable for any such damages which are attributable to the wrongful of negligent conduct of a Postal Service employee acting in the scope of his or her employment. The postal employee is entitled to OWCP benefits whether or not he or she was at fault in the accident. The Postal Service will not pay damages to the employee’s vehicle even when the employee is not at fault.”
“The Postal Service will not pay any increase in premiums if the insurance company charges more as a result of use of a private vehicle in postal employment.”
The memo goes on:
“There are some circumstances where postal employees have contracted to use their personal vehicle in the performance of Postal Service duties. In such situations, it is possible that there may be some right to order them to use their private vehicle.
“Unless there is a contract between the employee and the Postal Service for the use of that private vehicle, there would never be any circumstances in which the Postal Service could order the employee to use his private vehicle. If such an order were given, the employee would be entitled to refuse to obey. It would be a wrongful effort to exert domain over private property on behalf of the Federal Government. The Judicial process for such an exercise is quite detailed, and the Postal Service only follows such judicial route under the most unusual of circumstances. This would never be applicable to an effort to require an employee to use his personal vehicle for Postal Service purposes.” (Emphasis added)
From this we can see that Bulk Mail Technicians, SSPC Tech’s, Window Clerks, Dispatch Expeditors and others should not use their own vehicle to perform postal duties.
If management wants you to report to a second location to complete your tour, they either have to provide you transportation to and from the second station or assign a staff car for you. There are certainly plenty of staff cars parked out in the parking lot that could be used.
So when your supervisor claims there is no vehicle available for you, you remind them this is a management problem and not yours. Your vehicle is not at the disposal of the supervisor.
Thomas M. LaFauci,
Central Jersey Area local #149