2009-07-16 / Front Page

JLG To Recall 550-650 Workers

Says callbacks will begin immediately
By Lindsay R. Mellott STAFF WRITER

After a year of layoff after layoff at JLG Industries, parent company Oshkosh Corp. announced good news late Tuesday afternoon, saying 550 to 650 workers will be called back to build a billion-dollars' worth of armored vehicles for the U.S. Army.

Oshkosh said in a released statement that it would recall laid-off JLG workers primarily at its Pennsylvania facilities and that between 300 and 500 new hires will be made at its defense facilities in Wisconsin.

The callbacks will begin immediately and will continue in phases aligned with the planned increases in production activities, said Jeff Ford, JLG spokesperson, in a separate statement also released on Tuesday.

Laid-off JLG employees will be contacted by the company according to seniority and job requirements.

"We're certainly pleased with the additional opportunities for our team members," said Craig Paylor, Oshkosh executive vice president and JLG president. "As a member of the Oshkosh Corp. family, the ability to use our manufacturing facilities and our experienced personnel to assist with the Defense contracts will have a very positive effect on our communities which have been adversely affected by the economy."

The announcement comes two weeks after Oshkosh said it had won a $1.05 billion Department of Defense contract to . build 2,244 mine-resistant, ambush protected all-terrain vehicles (M-ATVs) for ground forces fighting in Afghanistan.

News stories published then said that the vehicle's cabs would be built at JLG's Mc- Connellsburg plant and that hundreds of the company's laidoff employees would be called back to work.

Oshkosh spokesperson Ann Stawski, however, would not confirm those reports last week, telling the "News" that production plans and employment numbers had not been finalized. Those decisions, she said, would be made before the end of July.

Hit hard by the global economic turndown, JLG, beginning last July, has laid off more than half, about 53 percent, of its worldwide workforce, which numbered 4,500 when Oshkosh bought the company in 2006. McConnellsburg JLG workers, which numbered 2,200 in 2006, have been most affected by those layoffs, although Oshkosh has never stated exactly how many workers here have lost jobs.

Layoffs at JLG have skyrocketed Fulton County's unemployment rate into double digits. May's unemployment rate, the most recent, put the county at 13.4 percent, or number 65 out of Pennsylvania's 67 counties.

Fulton County commissioners Bonnie Mellott Keefer and David Hoover told the "News" they were "extremely pleased with the positive impact that this (the callbacks) will have on county residents and the community."

Oshkosh's M-ATV was selected by the Army after months of extensive government testing on production-ready vehicles built by the Wisconsin-based truck manufacturer and three other companies that were competing for the contract. Its prototype was chosen because Oshkosh's truck best addressed the Army's need for blast-resistant vehicles that are lighter and agile enough to navigate Afghanistan's harsh terrain.

The 2,244 M-ATVs are to be built by December, with the first shipments scheduled for this month.

To comply with the Pentagon's immediate need for the trucks, Oshkosh hedged its bets and began manufacture of the vehicles last month, ahead of learning it had won the defense contract.

Stawski said last week that production will be ratcheted up to 1,000 trucks per month as quickly possible.

"Adding new employees to our Oshkosh Defense employment base and calling back skilled JLG employees at our underutilized JLG facilities will maximize our manufacturing operations and accelerate our MATV delivery schedule," said Robert G. Bohn, Oshkosh Corp. chairman and chief executive officer.

JLG also announced on Tuesday that a second DOD contract will call back an additional 60 workers who will be deployed to Kuwait to install Oshkosh TAK- 4 independent suspension kits on armored vehicles already in Afghanistan and Iraq. The JLG employees involved in the Kuwait deployment are part of more than 120 Oshkosh Corp. employees involved in the project. They volunteered and were selected from a pool of candidates throughout Oshkosh Corp. The JLG employees, many of whom were laid off, came from JLG facilities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and California.

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