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Oshkosh Corp workers approve contract

OSHKOSH, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Union workers at the Oshkosh Corporation have voted to extend their current contract for five more years, to help the firm win a large defense package. Yesterday's vote among the 2,500 members of the United Auto Workers was not disclosed.

Oshkosh is one of three defense firms competing for a contract to build up to 55,000 new military vehicles as a replacement for the standard Humvee. Oshkosh asked U-A-W Local 578 to extend its contract by five years after it was due to expire in 2016. Had the union not done that, the firm said it might have moved production elsewhere to make it easier to win the Humvee contract.

Union president Joe Priesler said his bargaining committee would have done a disservice to the employees had it not taken the threat seriously. The workers will get a one-and-a-half percent pay raise in each of the first three years of the extension. Those raises increase to two-and-a-half percent in 2020 and three-percent in '21. Employees will pay more for their health care. Laid-off workers will get first preference for new jobs if their recall rights have been exhausted.

The Humvee contract would be a big boost for Oshkosh, which has laid off 1,200 employees this year as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have wound down.