OSHKOSH - Oshkosh Defense will cut nearly 30% of its workforce this summer. In a press conference Tuesday, Vice President of Human Resources Rod Wedemeier explained why.
"Defense spending is returning to peacetime levels. We're exiting Afghanistan, we've exited Iraq. Certainly that has an impact on the structure of the DOD and what they need for wheeled vehicles," said Wedemeier.
That means fewer contracts for Oshkosh Defense.
700 union, hourly employees will be laid off on June 14th. 200 salaried employees will be laid off by mid-July.
After the layoffs, Oshkosh Defense will still employ 2,800 people in Oshkosh.
Some employees will be offered early retirement packages. Others are temporary workers.
Wedemeier told FOX 11 the company took measures to lessen the blow.
"By in-sourcing work customarily done externally, this saving over 165 jobs," said Wedemeier.
Joe Preisler is the president of the United Auto Workers Local 578. The union represents some of the affected employees. He told us the cuts will hurt the community.
"Regardless of whether a person is going to be one of those directly affected by the layoffs or not, it still affects us all," said Preisler.
According to Preisler the union will work with Oshkosh Corporation to help those who lose their jobs find new ones.
"Providing as many resources as possible for our people that are going to be affected," explained Preisler.
"These are highly skilled workers with assembly skills, painting, welding, some very good workers who've done tremendous quality work for our United States Department of Defense. They'd be an asset to any employer," added Wedemeier.
Preisler said the union is still helping those affected by the 450 layoffs from Oshkosh Defense back in January.
So he had a request for the government.
"Please, all lawmakers and politicians, do not make cuts to unemployment benefits. I am pleading with you," said Preisler.
These layoffs come on the heels of Oshkosh Defense cutting 450 jobs in January.
The layoffs come after Oshkosh Defense hired about 700 employees in February 2011. Nearly 2,000 people attended to a job fair the company held that month looking for work. That hiring period came after Oshkosh Defense signed a new Army contract.
Oshkosh Defense told us these cuts were not a result of sequestration. And the corporation has no plans to close any plants.
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