OSHKOSH - Union workers for Oshkosh Corporation's Defense Division voted Tuesday afternoon to go ahead with contract extension talks.
The company says it needs a 5-year extension in order to make its best offer on a new military contract.
The vote will allow the union's bargaining committee to sit down at the table again with the company.
The two sides tried to work out an extension earlier this summer, but could not come to an agreement.
Union leaders say they won't make any concessions as both sides look to the future.
As union members pour out the doors of the Oshkosh Convention Center, their opinions on what the union should do next are split.
"I don't think it is going to be fruitful, because I think these companies just want to whittle down on what they have to pay out,” said Don Forster, UAW Local 578 member.
"That is what they prefer us to do is to vote yes for the bargaining committee so that we can have a chance to have a discussion with them again,” said Kevin Klebs, UAW Local 578 member.
The company told workers Friday if the two sides can't reach a deal to help the company firm up its cost structure, the company may move defense work elsewhere.
Oshkosh Corp. is one of three companies bidding to create a replacement vehicle for the military Humvee. A contract that could be worth up to $13 billion.
The union's president says he has not seen a proposal from the company. A company spokesperson says the same proposal from July is still on the table.
"We're going to bargain and we're going to help partner because this potential contract is going to be great for us as a company, great for the community and also great for the employees, but we're going to have to work hard to get this,” said John Daggett, vice president of communications at Oshkosh Corp.
The company has imposed a September 30th deadline for this round of talks. The union says it won't accept a contract that asks for concessions.
"We put the facts on the line and we told them we are not interested in things such as concessionary bargaining, we're not interested in bringing a proposal back to them that is not conducive to their futures,” said Joe Preisler, UAW Local 578 president.
Daggett says the military contract will be awarded next year. He says he expects the two sides to sit down to begin extension talks in the next few days.
Daggett would not say where the company would move the work for the JLTV production. Instead he said the company is focused on getting a new extension in place with workers here in Oshkosh.
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