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SATURDAY: Oshkosh Defense Workers, Elected Leaders to Rally Demanding Good Union Jobs for Wisconsin Families
Oshkosh Defense slashed hometown jobs in half since 2012
Workers urge company to build USPS vehicles in Wisconsin, create 1,000 local jobs
OSHKOSH, WI — Joined by community members and elected leaders outraged by the loss of local jobs, Oshkosh Defense workers with the United Automobile Workers (UAW) Local 578 will rally Saturday at the corporation’s massive headquarters calling for a major investment in good union jobs for Fox Valley families.
Standing side-by-side with Wisconsin leaders including Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes, Assemblymember Gordon Hintz, and Assemblymember Lee Snodgrass, union workers — who have proudly built Oshkosh Defense vehicles for more than 80 years — will urge the federal defense contractor to deliver for its hometown and namesake by producing postal vehicles in Wisconsin. Workers will be flanked by banners and signs blaring, “We Can Build This” and “Building Union is Building Better” as momentum builds for workers’ demands that Oshkosh Defense bring the multi-billion-dollar postal contract home to Oshkosh.
“Oshkosh Defense was built by union workers in Wisconsin, and it’s only right that the company invest in our communities,” said UAW Local 578 President Bob Lynk. “But right now, the company is turning its back on the families and workers that have fueled its growth for more than 80 years, after spending the last decade cutting local jobs nearly in half. We can and should build the postal vehicle here in Wisconsin and create good-paying union jobs that our next generation needs. Oshkosh is more than ready to get to work; we have production facilities, our workers prepped the prototypes, and families and small businesses across 14 counties depend on these jobs. We’re going to keep fighting to restore jobs our community has lost.”
Oshkosh Defense has cut local employment to fewer than 1,700 workers, down from more than 3,000 workers in 2012, and continues to disinvest in the local Oshkosh community by rampantly displacing workers into lower-paying positions and production shifts. The Next Generation Delivery Vehicle contract awarded to Oshkosh Defense by the United States Postal Office is estimated to span $10 billion and create 1,000 new jobs — which are sorely needed across the Fox Valley to both put people to work in good union jobs and fuel local economies.
WHAT: UAW Local 578 Oshkosh Defense workers rally to demand good union jobs
WHO: UAW Local 578 workers
Bob Lynk, UAW Local 578 President
Tim Jacobson, UAW Local 578 Chief Steward
Cindy Estrada, UAW International Vice President
Ron McInroy, UAW Region 4 Director
Stephanie Bloomingdale, Wisconsin AFL-CIO President
Joshua Fry, President of American Postal Workers Union 178
Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes
State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski
State Assemblymember Gordon Hintz
State Assemblymember Lee Snodgrass
Alex Lasry, candidate for U.S. Senate
Tom Nelson, candidate for U.S. Senate
Steven Olikara, candidate for U.S. Senate
WHEN: Saturday, February 26 — 12pm Central
WHERE: Oshkosh Corp. Headquarters (1917 Four Wheel Drive, Oshkosh, WI. 54902)
“Oshkosh Defense and the UAW have worked hand-in-hand for more than 80 years, supporting generations of Wisconsin workers across the Fox Valley. Make no mistake: it’s this long-standing partnership led by union workers that won Oshkosh Defense the opportunity to build the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle contract for USPS,” said Ron McInroy, Director of UAW Region 4, representing workers in 16 North-Central and Northwest states including Wisconsin. “When companies like Oshkosh Defense disinvest in union workers, they damage our economy at large and make it harder for middle class families to get ahead. That’s why Wisconsinites are coming together to demand more good, union jobs and work that will support families, lift up local communities, while delivering for our environment and serving our country.”
The United States Postal Service (USPS) awarded Oshkosh Defense a multibillion-dollar contract to build up to 165,000 “next generation delivery vehicles” (NGDVs) over ten-years, despite Oshkosh Defense’s claims that they were not seeking the contract. Soon after, UAW Local 578 workers in Oshkosh started creating prototype parts and tools, preparing to build the vehicles in Oshkosh and celebrating the new work. But instead of doing the work in Oshkosh, the company announced the NGDV contract would be produced in a new facility in another state, continuing its run of disinvesting in Oshkosh communities
Alarmed by the company’s falling investments in Oshkosh, UAW Local 578 leaders are raising their voices to demand Oshkosh Defense deliver more good-paying, union jobs: circulating a petition signed by the majority of the workforce, testifying to the USPS Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., penning local op-eds, and meeting with Wisconsin elected leaders.
“Workers in Wisconsin and across the country are coming together at historic levels to demand good-paying union jobs that lift up whole communities while building a cleaner future,” said Cindy Estrada, UAW Vice President. “Corporations like Oshkosh Defense have an opportunity to do right by the people who power their profits — workers, their families and entire communities — by investing in a resilient climate future built by union workers. Every worker in every state deserves good union jobs, no matter where they live, because that’s how we’ll rebuild the middle class. That’s what this fight is about in Oshkosh and across the country, and workers will continue to come together and raise demands until we see the investments we need in our future.”
Support for UAW Local 578 workers is growing. The Oshkosh Common Council Tuesday passed a resolution supporting the production of Next Generation Delivery Vehicles in Oshkosh, affirming the need to support local workers advocating for more Oshkosh jobs. In support of the resolution, Oshkosh Mayor Lori Palmeri said, “This is about promoting Oshkosh. When the [contract] announcement was made, I was really proud and excited that the city of Oshkosh was going to be hosting a company that was going to be part of producing that next generation of electric postal vehicles, and really disappointed to then hear that wasn’t the case.”
The resolution came just days after the Wisconsin Capital Times editorial board blasted the company’s decision to not utilize the Oshkosh workforce, writing, “Wisconsin UAW members should be building new Postal Service vehicles.”
In recent weeks, Senator Tammy Baldwin joined workers to push the company to bring the contract home, saying, “To me, it’s simple – I want Oshkosh Defense to manufacture trucks in Oshkosh with Wisconsin workers.” Sen. Baldwin and Senator Gary Peters of Michigan sent a letter to Oshkosh Defense in November questioning the manufacturing plans.
More than 30 union leaders, including AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, sent a letter urging President Biden to intervene with the NGDV contract to ensure it supports family-sustaining jobs. The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) called on USPS to reevaluate its contract with Oshkosh Defense, with the White House calling the contract a once-in-a-generation opportunity to “create and sustain jobs, including well-paying union jobs.”
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