The lede, from tonight's Oshkosh Northwestern:
Members of United Auto Workers Local 578 overwhelmingly rejected a contract offer that would essentially freeze take home pay for five years, with 85 percent voting no Friday afternoon.
Thousands of United Auto Workers Local 578 members packed an Experimental Aircraft Association hangar this afternoon to discuss and vote on the most recent contract offer from Oshkosh Corp.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel offers more detail:
The union represents more than 3,000 Oshkosh employees, most of whom make trucks for the U.S. military. Union officials said they have pre-authorized a strike but have not yet called for it. About 2,800 of the employees voted on the contract.
"We are certainly willing and able to meet with the company again and continue negotiations," Local 578 Vice President Joe Preisler said.
This is a major test of collective bargaining power in Wisconsin, where worker's rights are under attack in the public and private sector. It's also a test of whether public and private sector unions will be able to stand in solidarity to put into practice the labor maxim that "an injury to one is an injury to all."
There is some residual bitterness in Wisconsin about the perception that public unions haven't fully supported private sector workers forced to accept concessions since Wall Street broke the economy. Employers have basically blackmailed workers with threats of plant shutdowns and moving jobs elsewhere. Now that public employees are being attacked by Gov. Scott Walker, will the dynamic change?
The union's bargaining committee opposed the contract.
"We saw it as an attempt to bust the union," Preisler said.
4:20 AM PT: UPDATE:
This Reuters story says Oshkosh Corp. (a Fortune 500 firm) in fiscal 2010 reported nearly $10 billion in revenue and a $1.4 billion operating profit, up 216 percent and 337 percent, respectively, from 2006. But its stock is down 50 percent recently, a drop attributed to "concern about the defense business," said Paul Bodnar, a senior analyst with Longbow Research in Cleveland. "Investors are wondering what will 2012 and 2013 look like."
The company is disappointed about the vote, said spokesman John Daggett, but is will to negotiate further. “At this point in time, the union has requested to meet. We would like to meet and we’ll take it from there.”
The company could notify the union that the rejected contract is its final offer. Local 578 President Nick Nitschke wants a contract. “We’re willing to start up again. We want to get it done.”