OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV)- Oshkosh Defense’s decision to build USPS trucks in South Carolina rather than at its plant in Oshkosh has angered some of its workers.
The project will create about 1,000 jobs. Some of Oshkosh Defense’s workers staged a rally Saturday afternoon to protest the corporation’s decision.
“These jobs belong here it was awarded upon our backs and our labor,” said Andy Schaller.
Schaller said he has worked for Oshkosh Defense for 23 years and the job has allowed him to provide a quality life for his family. He wasn’t happy when he found out the USPS project was going to get done in South Carolina rather than Oshkosh.
“It was a slap in the face,” said Schaller.
Dozens of Schaller’s colleagues in UAW Local 578, which represents workers of Oshkosh Corporation, joined the rally in front of the corporation’s headquarters in Oshkosh.
Several politicians joined the rally as well including several of the top Democratic candidates in Wisconsin’s U.S. senate race.
Union members not affiliated with UAW Local 578 also came out to show solidarity towards the Oshkosh Defense workers.
“You’ve got to dance with the one who brought you and Oshkosh Defense was born right here in Oshkosh and we got to keep the work here,” said Andy Hauck who is a train conductor and union member.
Oshkosh Defense told Local Five that they respect the worker’s right to peacefully protest outside their facility. They said that the facility in South Carolina ranked highest in meeting the needs of the project and USPS and that is why they chose that facility over the one in Oshkosh.
Here is the full statement from Oshkosh Defense on the rally:
We are proud that the U.S. Postal Service selected Oshkosh Defense for the NGDV program. We evaluated sites in multiple states, including Wisconsin, for production of the NGDV. The Spartanburg, South Carolina facility ranked highest in meeting the requirements of the NGDV program and gives us the best ability to meet the needs of the USPS. We value the longstanding and skilled workforce we have in Wisconsin and are committed to growing our local presence. With the support of several local economic development corporations, Oshkosh Defense looked throughout Wisconsin to find an existing building that was large enough to build this vehicle. The manufacturing space needed to be larger than any of our existing facilities – a minimum of 825,000 square feet. Wisconsin simply did not have any available buildings that could meet this requirement and given the strict timing requirements of this program, building a new facility was not feasible.
We are pleased to share that we will hire over 1,000 team members for long-term positions at the NGDV facility in Spartanburg. We have also established the NGDV Technical Center in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The center will be staffed by over 100 team members who will provide engineering and program support for the life of the 10-year NGDV contract. Hiring for this center began in 2021. In addition, we can confirm there will be no jobs lost in Oshkosh due to the NGDV manufacturing work being performed in South Carolina and will in fact result in additional highly technical jobs in Oshkosh. Facility preparations are well underway in South Carolina to ensure Oshkosh will meet contractual deadlines for vehicle deliveries to the Postal Service in 2023.”Oshkosh Defense
The project will build up to 165,000 USPS trucks over a 10 year period.