OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV) – The President of UAW 578 said he believes the decision to manufacture the ‘Next Generation Mail Delivery vehicles in South Carolina is a union-busting tactic.
“It’s a blatant fight against the union,” said Robert Lynk, the Union President. “To me, it’s an attack on UAW.”
Oshkosh Defense’s workforce is unionized under UAW 578 and has been for the last 84 years. Lynk believes his employer, Oshkosh Defense, was awarded the 6 billion-dollar government contract in February of 2021 because of the quality work done here in Wisconsin.
“These workers that are going to be doing it are going to be inexperienced,” said Lynk. “We have hundreds and hundreds and thousands of years of experience here in Oshkosh and that’s how their reputation was built.”
Lynk said outsourcing jobs to other states hurt Oshkosh workers because now there is not enough work left for them.
“Our southwest building is one of our largest facilities,” said Lynk. “That is down to one shift. A lot of our workers are not even putting in 40 hours anymore.”
This is in direct opposition to recent statements made by Senator Ron Johnson who asserts Wisconsin already has enough jobs.
Senator Johnson said, “These aren’t jobs moving out of the state, the biggest threat to Wisconsin jobs is what the Democrats are trying to do right now is trying to protest this contract and maybe blow the whole thing up. I hope they don’t do that.”
Oshkosh Defense said no jobs will be lost in Wisconsin. In a previous statement, they said in part, “We have also established the NGDV technical center in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The center will be staffed by over 100 team members.”
Oshkosh Defense also said they have no Wisconsin facilities that meet the minimum requirement of 825,000 square feet of manufacturing space. Lynk disagrees and said the $482 million taxpayer dollars going to start a new plant in South Carolina could be used to expand Wisconsin facilities.
“Down the road here our lot has 5,000 trucks all the time,” said Lynk. “I don’t believe we have an issue parking trucks and I believe the postal workers will want them trucks as fast as they’re getting made so I don’t see them sitting around like our military trucks do.”
He said if the contract stays in South Carolina he would support their workers if they want to unionize.
“I can get the right people down there if they want to do that. I would encourage South Carolina to unionize. They all deserve well-paying jobs,” said Lynk. “It’s the middle class and the union made America today what it’s at.
Lynk said because the contract was specifically given to Oshkosh Defense the new mail trucks should be manufactured in Wisconsin and he will continue to fight the decision.