OSHKOSH - One of the area's largest employers says it might move production of a potential new project worth billions out of state, if it can't reach an agreement with its union.
Oshkosh Defense sent union employees a letter. The letter says a five-year contract extension must be set by the end of the month. The company says it needs the extension to put in a bid for a new military vehicle.
Friday afternoon union employees for Oshkosh Defense's received a letter from CEO Charlie Szews. In part Szews said it's time to extend the contract between the union and the company, or else, saying "without a contract extension by September 30, we will move on to plan start-up of JLTV production elsewhere to counter our wage and benefit disadvantage in Oshkosh compared to our competition and to provide certainty of future costs."
Oshkosh Defense is one of three companies vying for a 13 billion dollar contract from the military to build the JLTV. That is the vehicle which will replace the Humvee.
The current contract between the company and union is set to expire in 2016. The two sides began negotiating a five year extension in July, but were unable to reach a deal.
Oshkosh Defense would not speak to FOX 11 on camera, but told us over the phone the letter is not a threat. The spokesperson said it is meant to show the union how necessary a contract through 2021 is to win the military bid.
In his letter Schews said, "we need both bid cost certainty and a competitive cost structure to ensure we have the highest likelihood of winning the JLTV contract."
The spokesperson would not say where the company might move operations, but Oshkosh Corporations has sites in 7 other states.
Union President Joe Preisler would not say whether he thinks Oshkosh Defense would really move the potential project, but he did say, "That obviously would not be a good thing and we definitely wouldn't want that to happen."
Preisler told us the union will vote next Tuesday to decide whether to reopen negotiations.
"There has to be a two-sided, open conversation in order to get to a happy medium there and either our members will give us a chance to do that or not," said Preilser.
Preisler and the Oshkosh Defense spokesperson say they will speak with us on camera after Tuesday's union vote.
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