OSHKOSH - Union workers at Oshkosh Corporation are scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to reopen contract extension talks with the company even though the contract doesn't expire for three years.
It's what the company is asking for and more than just the workers and company will be watching the vote.
Oshkosh Mayor Burke Tower says Oshkosh Corporation holds significant sway over the local economy.
"It's always difficult to be on the sidelines because really the city has a lot at stake here."
That's thousands of jobs for Oshkosh and the surrounding communities. Oshkosh Corporation sent a letter to union members Friday. In it the company tells union members the two sides need to agree on a 5-year contract extension by the end of the month. If not, the company says it will look to win the JLTV contract and build the vehicle elsewhere.
Four years ago the city stepped in to provide incentives to Oshkosh Corporation for a new paint facility. That was to help the company build the FMTV that is nearing the end of production. But this time there isn't an opportunity for the city to intervene.
"This is really between the employees and the Oshkosh Corporation," said Tower.
The JLTV contract is to provide both the Army and Marine Corps with a replacement vehicle for the aging Humvee. With a value of roughly $13 billion Oshkosh Corporation officials say it is the last major military contract on the horizon.
An economic study by a Virginia-based research organization shows Oshkosh is the second hardest hit area in the country by defense industry cuts at nearly $2 billion from 2010-2012.
"Oshkosh Corp. has a huge impact, not just in direct employment but also a supply chain that is significant in Oshkosh, but also the whole region," said Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce CEO John Casper.
The company is laying off 900 defense division employees this year. Friday the president of UAW Local 578 said the contract extension talks must be beneficial to both sides far into the future.
"There has to be 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 Joe Preisler, president of the UAW Local 578.
A vote Tuesday with much at stake.
Oshkosh Corporation is bidding against AM General, the maker of the Humvee and Lockheed Martin for the contract.
The vote Tuesday would reopen talks on extending the union contract from 2016, which is when it now expires, through 2021.
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