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Oshkosh To Lay Off 900 This Summer

The Oshkosh-based company says it will begin laying off 700 hourly employees in mid-June, with 200 salaried employees to be laid off by the end of July. Company leaders say production is declining as the military continues to wind down from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP) -- A continuing decline in military vehicle orders is prompting Oshkosh Corp. to lay off 900 people this summer, the defense contractor said Tuesday.

The company, based in Oshkosh, Wis., announced plans to cut 700 production workers beginning June 14 and 200 office workers by the end of July. The layoffs come as Department of Defense spending returns to peacetime levels and truck orders from foreign governments fail to pan out.

Once the cuts are completed, Oshkosh will have reduced its local workforce by more than 1,300 positions this year through layoffs, early buyouts and not filling some office positions as they open up in 2013. The company said that after the layoffs, it will employ about 2,800 defense workers in Oshkosh, though it wasn't immediately clear how many of its workers total will remain in the city.

The cuts will wipe out the significant job growth that the company experienced as it ramped up production for the Mine-Reistant All-Terrain Vehicle, or M-ATV, and Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles, or FMTV, contracts in the early 2000s, according to the Oshkosh Northwestern newspaper

"We knew there was going to be an end," Oshkosh Corp. spokesman John Daggett said.

The company added and retained jobs throughout the recession, but the overall decline in defense spending as wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down has taken its toll on production in Oshkosh, said Rod Wedemeier, the company's vice president of human resources.

"These were difficult decisions, but necessary ones," Wedemeier said.

Wedemeier said the company has brought some jobs back in-house to lessen the impact of the layoffs, saving more than 165 jobs from being cut as officials sought ways to align staffing with production needs.

He added that the company plans to offer early buyouts to eligible employees, but said he was not aware how many might receive such offers.

Some of the company's other segments, most notably its Pennsylvania-based access equipment segment, have started to rebound along with the economy, leading to strong sales and profits.

Shares of Oshkosh closed Tuesday down 24 cents at $39.17. The company's stock has gained 32 percent so far this year.

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