Oshkosh Corp. to lay off 450 employees in January

OSHKOSH -- Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh's largest employer has announced it will lay off 450 employees in January -- 11% of its workforce.

Oshkosh Corp., a truck manufacturer with Pentagon contracts, blamed the "difficult decisions" on looming cuts to the nation's defense budget.

"As Oshkosh and others in the defense industry have discussed on numerous occasions, domestic military vehicle production volumes will decline significantly in 2013 due to the reduction in U.S. defense budgets and the fact that military spending is returning to peacetime levels. Unfortunately, these economic factors require Oshkosh to rebalance its defense production workforce starting in January 2013," the company said in a statement.

The company said the layoffs were not tied to the looming budget cuts set to take effect in January -- and it will still have about 3,500 employees in its Oshkosh-based defense division after the job cuts.

Company spokesman John Daggett says Oshkosh Corp. worked to lessen the blow.

"We actually went to the U.S. Army to ask them to extend the production schedule for our FMTV," Daggett said.

Oshkosh Corp. will continue that production through at least 2015, which Daggett says helped avoid more layoffs.

The Oshkosh Defense Workers' Union, UAW Local 578 released the following statement in regards to the layoff announcement: "The union is very concerned - not only about the impact to our membership but also their family members and the surrounding community.  We are looking into ways to lessen the impact of an outright layoff."

Both sides have suggested possibilities like offering early voluntary retirement packages to help ease the cuts.

"This doesn't happen until January, so I'm sure we'll have more conversations as we go forth," Daggett said.