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Union workers at Oshkosh Defense worry about uncertainty surrounding layoffs


OSHKOSH, WI (WTAQ) - Union workers at Oshkosh Defense are preparing for hundreds of layoffs coming this summer, but they're uncertain about exactly who will be given a pink slip.

Members of the United Auto Workers met in Oshkosh on Saturday.

"People are afraid of the unknown. And right now, we do not have which departments, plants, or shifts are going,” Andy Schaller, Vice President of the UAW Local 578, told FOX 11.

The gathering behind closed doors took on new meaning with impending layoffs.

"We care about our family members so much that we want to make sure that all resources available for them gets out,” said Local 578 president Joe Preisler.

Preisler says job counselors from the state Department of Workforce Development spoke to workers during the nearly three hour meeting.

“Major concerns right now are what is going on with any special assistance that might be out there for anybody. A lot of people are concerned with unemployment because we know the future of that is all over the place,” said Preisler.

On Tuesday, Oshkosh Defense explained the layoffs are a result of decreased production.

"Defense spending is returning to peace time levels. We're exiting Afghanistan. We've exited Iraq. Certainly that has an impact,” said Rod Weidemeier, Vice President of Human Resources for Oshkosh Defense.

Oshkosh Defense officials say 700 union hourly workers will be cut. 200 salaried positions will also go.

The company has not determined who will lose their jobs. And this waiting game has union members on edge.

"They want to know as soon as possible so they can get their affairs and their family prepped for what may come to be,” said Schaller.

"We'll know more as time goes on and we get more information. There are a lot of things unanswered yet and we're waiting for clarification on a lot of things,” said Preisler.

Oshkosh Defense says 2800 people will still have a job with the company after the layoffs. It is one of the city's largest employers.