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Harley-Davidson Stays in Wisconsin

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Harley-Davidson union workers agreed to labor agreements that would keep production operations in Wisconsin.
Unions at Harley-Davidson Wisconsin factories have agreed to seven-year labor agreements that will keep the company’s production operations in The Motor Company’s home state. The new labor contracts, which call for a reduced workforce, will take effect in in April 2012.

A total of 325 unionized jobs will be cut from the company’s workforce at its plants at Menomonee Falls (near Milwaukee) and Tomahawk, Wisconsin. The Menomonee Falls operations, which produce H-D engines and transmissions, are represented by United Steelworkers (USW) Local 2-209 and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Lodge 78. The new agreement will reduce full-time unionized hourly workers at the Milwaukee facilities from 950 to 700, a loss of 250 union jobs. The company’s Tomahawk plant, which produces components like saddlebags and is represented by United Steelworkers Local 460, will reduce its full-time unionized staff by 75 positions, to around 200.

In the stead of lost full-time union positions, H-D will source a part-time workforce as needed. In its press release announcing the new labor agreement Harley-Davidson described the new part-time status: “The production system includes the addition of a “casual” workforce component – unionized employees who work as required, depending on seasonal needs and to provide coverage for vacations and other absences.”

H-D cites the “casual” workforce as critical in streamlining production efficiency and flexibility, saying the seven-year agreements “contain essentially identical provisions except for variances in wage rates and incentives related to contract ratification.” The casual workforce will work at reduced hourly wages, though exact details of the wage rates are unavailable at this time.
Harley-Davidson CEO Keith Wandell
Harley-Davidson CEO Keith Wandell.

Unions at the Wisconsin facilities voted on the new agreement with the understanding that failure to ratify would mean the company’s Wisconsin production would likely move out of state. H-D facilities in Kansas City were the prime candidate for the threatened relocation.

Harley-Davidson expects to save around $50 million a year when the first full year of the new contract takes effect in 2013. In the meantime, the company estimates it will incur $85 million in restructuring charges.

Company President and CEO, Keith Wandell, said of the new agreements: “Change is never easy, and we have asked our employees to make difficult decisions. However, we are pleased to be keeping production operations in our hometown of Milwaukee and in Tomahawk,” Wandell goes on to say. “Together, we are making the necessary changes across our entire company to succeed in a competitive, global marketplace while continuing to meet and exceed the expectations of our customers.”
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Comments
Phil -In 10 Years 100% Chinese  September 22, 2010 04:22 PM
Harley's actions are a direct result of what they saw GM do.

Step 1) Make Americans think Unions are bad.

Step 2) Not upgrading their products fast enough to keep up with the market so they can renegotiate contracts.

Step 3) Wait for a market drop to aquire government bail out money.

Step 4) Shift bail out money to China to open new production factories.

Step 5) Pass out bonuses.


Sue -Ms.  September 18, 2010 09:14 AM
Does this mean Harley will cut their prices? They are already ridiculously priced and they don't hold their value like thay used to.
Colby -John G  September 17, 2010 02:13 PM
“Well I could also say this about the owners of corporations, basic human trait that your decribing there.” Really, what “dues” do corporations collect from their customers? What corporation strongly persuades their customers to vote a certain way? What will I get in return for doing what the corporation wants me and tells me to do? What can or does a corporation tell me to do and what will happen if I don’t listen or follow orders?

“You know only care about profit, etc” Is profit a dirty word? If businesses didn’t make profits wouldn’t they be out of business and then there would be no union and no one would have a job. If businesses did not make a profit then how can they give raises to their employees, offer healthcare and update old equipment. If businesses made no profit they would pay no taxes and the government would be broke (which it still is regardless). John G. if you had a business would you want to earn a profit?

“Corporations have never moved overseas to lower wages, just to make a bigger profit.” Pretend John G. you own a lemon aid stand and it is your only source of income but business is good. Some of your competition starts getting its supplies (cups, mixing containers, straws etc.) from over seas because it is cheaper and will have a competitive edge over you and the other lemon aid stands. Soon you too will have to get your supplies for the same price and from the same place because business has dropped off because you need to sell a cup for .25 cents to make a small profit but your competition sells his for .15 cents and still makes decent profit; as a result your customer base is drying up. You could always not go to China for your supplies but then you will soon be out of business because you are not making any profit.

Are corporations making “bigger” profits by going to China or are they just staying alive and competitive? If you were the only lemon aid stand going to China and still charging .25 cents per cup then yes you would be making “bigger” profits, but if all or most of your competition is also going to China then you profit margins are in line with what you were making before you went to China because although your costs are lower so is your price/margin. In a free market your competition will force you to compete and lower your prices. This is why stuff at Wal-Mart and Target are so cheap. It’s not like you can go to China and have stuff manufactured and then when you sell it here you can charge premium prices because somewhere along the way another competitor will make and sell the same stuff but sell it cheaper forcing your price/profit lower.

Name brand stuff is different like Harley t-shirts made in China selling for premium prices. They’re different because now branding and licensing is involved.

"Free Market" is an illusion corporations use collusion and strength in numbers to corner markets, prices, wages, etc...corporatins will use their wealth to influence politicians to make rules to further their interests.” Isn’t the government more to blame here rather than the free market? Couldn’t our elected officials just say no to special interest groups and/or pass strict laws and oversight prohibiting this sort of corrupt behavior?

“Ah socialism, is that what you are worried about?” Is that WHAT you’re about John G.? Does socialism make you all warm and tingly inside. Do you think that in socialist governments there is no corruption? No wealthy class? No poverty? No big corporations? Do you think it is some utopia because if it was then why are most of the world’s immigrants trying their hardest to enter the USA and not France, Venezuela, or Holland? Capitalism is not perfect but no system is but at least with capitalism you are freer than other systems.
JohnG -JohnG - Colby  September 17, 2010 09:22 AM
"…but…unions are entrenched with corrupt politicians, sometimes mobsters and almost always socialist activist; who by the way don’t care about the members well being but instead only care about your dues and your blind loyalty at the voting poles. In return unions reward their members with perks paid for by the business owner and then ultimately the consumer."

Well I could also say this about the owners of corporations, basic human trait that your decribing there. You know only care about profit, etc...and of course no one is corrupt in the monied class.

“but don’t try and tear down an owner’s wealth because you want more than your fair share with out working/risking for it."

Agree 100% , dont devalue my work neither please, because you can get more out of me. Corporations have never moved overseas to lower wages, just to make a bigger profit.

The free market sets and defines “fair” very well but it also doesn’t hold hostage a large voting block for the democrats and goes against socialists ideals.

"Free Market" is an illusion corporations use collusion and strength in numbers to corner markets, prices, wages, etc...corporatins will use their wealth to influence politicians to make rules to further their interests.

Ah socialism, is that what you are worried about?
Colby -John G  September 16, 2010 02:40 PM
...”well there is a the fundamental concept of strength in numbers for one thing.” There is nothing wrong with groups or associations helping each other out with the power of numbers…but…unions are entrenched with corrupt politicians, sometimes mobsters and almost always socialist activist; who by the way don’t care about the members well being but instead only care about your dues and your blind loyalty at the voting poles. In return unions reward their members with perks paid for by the business owner and then ultimately the consumer.

“You know you can be a slave to the ownership class also, not everyone wants to be an owner.” Not everyone has what it takes to be an owner which is just fine but don’t try and tear down an owner’s wealth because you want more than your fair share with out working/risking for it.

“Some people just want to work, fair work, fair wages.” This is precisely where the problem lies what is fair? Define fair work and fair wages. No matter what the employer pays its employees the unions and workers will want more, it is human nature and the job of the union. Professional ball players belong to a union get paid millions of dollars for each short season of play, yet they sometimes strike over salary caps. Is $18,000,000 for one season of play unfair? Sure you will say the club owners are billionaires but owners put up the cash and are running the show and could lose it all. What happens when these athletes don’t make the cut? They go back to driving a truck or working as a store clerk but when they were playing the would turn down a $8,000,000 contract and demand a $10,000,000 contract.

Same goes for the HD union employees who are getting let go. I’d bet if you asked them if the agreements/contracts the factory was offering in the past are “fair” or not they would say most definitely, especially after they see what is really out there for someone who has a limited skill set . Why do you think the union agreed to the latest contract even though it is mostly what HD wanted and needed? Because they know it is fair, more than fair, but if HD didn’t threat to move they never would have viewed the latest offer as “fair”.

The free market sets and defines “fair” very well but it also doesn’t hold hostage a large voting block for the democrats and goes against socialists ideals.
John G -Colby - To be in a union...  September 16, 2010 10:48 AM
...well there is a the fundamental concept of strength in numbers for one thing.

You know you can be a slave to the ownership class also, not everyone wants to be an owner.

Some people just want to work, fair work, fair wages.
Mad at it all -Fairness?  September 16, 2010 05:42 AM
In 2009, Harley’s CEO (a job split during the year between James Ziemer and Keith Wandell) took home $8,864,919 in extras over and above base salary of $1,105,169. In 2008, the bonuses totaled $6,201,323. That’s over $15 million in bonuses the past two years to the CEO of a company that cries “crisis” to justify lower wages and benefits for production workers. Where is their sacrifice?
Colby -To be in a union...  September 15, 2010 07:01 PM
What do unions do for their workers besides collect union dues that pay union bosses six figure salaries and funnel money to corrupt politicians? They extort money from honest businesses, by telling THEM how much they should be paid regardless if the union worker is worth the money or not, regardless if the business will be profitable or not, by threatening to go on strike until they get there personal demands.

If you need extortion, threats and strong arming to get your way you are not an organization or employee you are a mobster/criminal. Honest hardworking people who understand the fundamentals of economics realize that if you make yourself more employable and desirable to employers you will secure a better paying job. Improving education, skills, and experience rather than extortion, threats and whining works better. And you don’t have to pay dues the rest of your life; you can work for many different companies in many different fields, live in all parts of the world and most importantly have the satisfaction that you have achieved this success through hard work, determination and self reliance.

If you work for an auto union you have to live in real fun places like Detroit, Mexico and Canada…yeah that sounds fun, not. If you are in a union your pay is dictated by what the union has scored for you. Maybe $60K is good enough for some but why would I limit myself to a set amount no matter how hard or long I work. Why would you settle for $35 per hr. when you could make $3,500 per week or more and have no union dues?

I say let the unions grow, let these people be owned by the union pay their dues and be told how much to work, how much they will earn and how high to jump when they say strike. Go ahead and work all the mundane and menial jobs and leave the motivating, creative, high paying sky’s the limit type jobs for me and the rest of us.

To be a union worker is to be enslaved by your keepers which would be the union, employer and politicians.

To be free of the shackles of union membership is what inspires invention, wealth and happiness. There are many millionaires in this country and none of them got there by working for and in a union their entire lives.
Thomas So. Can -To John  September 15, 2010 06:26 PM
Why wouldn't you want school teachers to make an honest salary for the work that they do?? Higher pay attracts better candidates, right?? If you don't value education, what is important to you?? Education is a capital investment, human capital. Another idea that you fail to understand is that we need a solid government for Capitalism to succeed. If we had an unstable government, business would not be willing to invest in our market. If taxes are the root of our problems, why don't more companies go to Mexico where there are few taxes and regulations. We cant cut our way to greatness
John G -To John  September 15, 2010 04:00 PM
"Why would an assembly line worker make more then $16 an hour? I went to school for 6 years and have to re learn my Job every two years in software along with quarterly performance reviews just to keep my job. Why would a high school drop out make more more money than me?"

Well we can get Indians from India to do your job or just outsource it to there!!!!

Chris -John  September 15, 2010 01:35 PM
I learned a long time ago... not to believe everything I read on the internet. Even if it were true, I'm sure it's not the norm.
Sheryl -To John  September 15, 2010 01:29 PM
Got any documentation to back up any of your claims? I didn't think so. Really... $330K/year for firefighters? Dude, take your foil helmet off and get back in the game.

As for firefighters: Regardless of what they make, I could care less if they were to “just to chill out most of the shift". Would I would care about is if mine or my neighbors house caught fire and they didn't show up. It's funny how republicans want to cut taxes that pay for these services, yet they expect the services to still be there for them when they need it. Huh?

As for you comment to irksome: Why wouldn't an assembly line worker be eligible to make >$16/hr.? Ever hear of the Boing Company? I'm not sure I would want someone who makes minimum wage putting planes together. And who ever said anything about them being HS drop outs? Here you go--making ass-umptions.

John -To Hendo  September 15, 2010 01:10 PM
So sorry did I say 300k? I ment only 270K
Read this: http://www.publicsafetyproject.org/elsegundo/elsegundo_payroll.html#sworn_firefighters
Hendo -Really??  September 15, 2010 11:34 AM
they pay"union "firefighters 330k a year??come on you fools spread your lies and actually expect people to believe them.no wonder no one ever trusts republicans
DJ -Profit Sharing and ESOP  September 15, 2010 09:21 AM
An easy solution to this is for HD to institute either a profit sharing plan with their employees or make the company an ESOP company. That way everyone makes money when the company makes money and looses money when the company looses money. The risk and rewards are shared.
John -to Matt - Let me demystify why i hate unions  September 15, 2010 09:02 AM
I hate unions because I have to finance from my tax money school teachers that work half days for 9 months out of the year and make as much as full time workers. And BTW if I ever decide I can afford kids I will still send them to private schools. Why do I have to pay for your kids to get an education? Isn’t that your job?
I hate unions because I have to pay firefighters 300k a year. Yes, I respect them and what they do and that is why we compensated the families of the 9/11 victims, but, still 300k a year just to chill out most of the shift? You got to be kidding me. There is a reason why there are 100 candidates for every open firefighter position.
Why would any government worker need a union? they don’t produce any profit (with the exception of that chicken s#$t cop that gave me a 650 bucks speeding ticket the other day)
I have unions because they prevent other people from getting a job. Ever tried to be a part of a movie cast or crew? If you have union people there you will never get hired EVER.
I hate unions because when I was doing some software development in the SONY lot for a contractor I needed to move a desk. I was not allowed to move it. I had to wait for union workers to do it. They came over. Looked at it and went to lunch! I was left standing there. Finally I just moved the desk myself about two feet. You would not believe the trouble I was in. I almost got fired!
I hate unions because they lie all the time. They didn’t invent the 40 hour week nor did they invent the weekend time off or even vacation time. You can go back to the bible and find it all there (and no. I am not a bible thumper). Also look around the world. We get less vacation time and work more hours than the rest of the world and that is why we lead. Our work ethics is what makes America number one. We work hard. I can’t even recall eh last time I worked only 40 hours a week.
It’s interesting how unions disrupt the natural balance of a free market by introducing over inflated artificial salaries to lower end people. It’s annoying when they are government workers and I am stuck with the bill. I can choose not to buy a HD. I cannot choose not to pay taxes. That makes unions plain old mafia in my book and that is why I hate them.
Have I made myself clear Matt?
Jim -More on HD and unions  September 15, 2010 04:21 AM
I know many people that did or do work at H.D.and they work very hard and care alot about their employer and their product they produce.This raping of middle class workers is going on all across America,to union and non-union people.It really boils down to corporate greed.I don't believe this has anything to do with unions at all.I have witnessed so much corporate mismanagement in my career it is sickening.[and some brilliant management as well]Hopefully manufacturing in the USA will recover before it is too late.
Truth -Concessions  September 14, 2010 11:48 PM
So after dumping Buell, et al and realizing they can only sell so many bandannas and t-shirts to an aging demographic; where do they go to recoup new profits? The rank and file workers, of course. HD was a cash rich pig that squandered away hundreds of millions of dollars of profits through corporate greed and piss poor management (can you say MV Agusta, I bet you can). Wandell's goal is to increase corporate gains by busting the union with threats of moving elsewhere. (Eventually, all HD's will be made in Mumbai anyway.) These union concessions won't stop the bleeding. It will guarantee more money for stockholders however it's only a temporary fix; one with many more to follow because HD operates under a flawed business model. BTW, Wandell's total compensation including options; $6,363,579.00. The truth.
Matt -Why Do People Hate Unions!?  September 14, 2010 08:39 PM
People that hate unions mystify me. These must be people that are still angry about Franklin Roosevelt getting elected.

Unions gave us the 40-hour work week, the weekend, and the end of child labor. Unions arent perfect, nothing is, but unions represent the interests of the working man. This is a good thing. Even non-union workers reap the secondary benefits of union wins.

There must be a balance of the power. In this case, the unions must give way or see Harley-Davidson crumble due to high labor costs. At least that's the way it seems. The autoworkers have had to swallow similar setbacks. The thing that scares me is this "casual" worker BS. How long till more and more workers become "casual"? How many workers already are! It seems like most the jobs in this country are crap service jobs that can't support a family. At $30 an hour those H-D guys are pulling in what, 65K a year? That's a decent, honest wage, and not scandalous by any means. What's scandolous is that many workers can work two or more jobs and not come anywhere near that.

I don't blame the unions. I say more unions. Let's get a massive retail union in this country to rival the Teamsters of old. Demand Walmart pay more than $8 an hour and give some decent benefits to its workers, full-time or "casual". Get organized and demand a fair living wage. If we get the 300 million people in the country that arent millionaires up to a living wage with a little extra scratch to spare and economy would flourish.

Who knows they might even be able to afford a Harley-Davidson motorcycle one day!!!
Morvegil -LOL  September 14, 2010 08:12 PM
".It takes a man to work an assembly line not some nerd pushin keys." Yeah, insert part into B, Rinse, Repeat.
socalmoe -In the shitter.... Dennis  September 14, 2010 07:56 PM
Take a look at what unions are doing to municipalities around the country. Hefty pension plans are killing our cities and corporations.A bunch of lazy fucks collecting nice pensions primarily funded by non-union tax payers. Union employees that cannot be fired, refusing to negotiate contracts, and list of union created cancers created in the US. Read the paper once in a while.
Perry H. -Dennis  September 14, 2010 07:02 PM
“whether you like it or not, America is a Union.” America is a constitutional republic.

“if they make the product and the company sells it and makes obscene amounts of money doing it, why should they share in the profits?” Well let’s see, did the union make the millions of $$ investment in the machines and tooling to build the bikes…NO. Did the union procure all the necessary financing and pay into the cost of borrowing that money and will they incur risk if the money doesn’t get paid back in a timely manner set by the loan contract…NO. Did the union engineer the products and fund all the research and development…NO. All the union workers did was follow instructions from the paid training they received and assembled the bikes; in return the workers received their wage; that is the end of the relationship. Just like when you buy a Harley they give you a bike you give them money end of story. Should Harley send their owners a profit sharing check once a year because after all if they did no buy the Harley, HD would not be profitable?

“The bottom line is HD is no different in their corporate greed than any other lousey fortune 500 company.” These so called “lousey”, I am sure you meant “lousy” companies provide and create millions of good paying jobs. Without these high paying white collar jobs that trickle down to more blue collar jobs we would have an economy much like Mexico.

“But don't bitch about the good deal someone else got just because you got a raw one. Don't like where your working? Look for another job. It's a free market out there, right?” Talk about the cat calling the kettle black. Maybe you shuld take your own advice and preach it to all the whinny union workers.

“BTW. When those employees make less and less money, they spend less and pay less taxes, while the corporations get tax breaks.
This is good for America?” Well increasing the tax on the job creators sure won’t increase the wages they pay to employees, so yeah tax breaks are good for America. Unless you are a Socialist and want the government to control the economy the less money given to the government, for which they will squander, the better. I have always received my pay check either from an employer or a customer so if both have more money after taxes the more hiring and buying they both do and this results in a win/win situation because the more the customers spend the more hiring the businesses need to do.
Dennis -America is a Union  September 14, 2010 05:55 PM
Hey John, whether you like it or not, America is a Union. It operates just like one:the majority rules. There are plenty of Unions out there:teachers, cops, firemen, health care workers, etc. How come everyone dumps of the factory workers Unions? Are you going to go after the others next?
And in case you forgot, the Union won the Civil War.
As far as dumping on the assembly line workers, if they make the product and the company sells it and makes obscene amounts of money doing it, why should they share in the profits?
You can bet that while the workers aren't getting raises and the temp workers aren't getting any health care, the salaried employees will still get their bonus' and plenty of other perks. And of course a good health care package as well.
The bottom line is HD is no different in their corporate greed than any other lousey fortune 500 company.
They reap all the benefits while the producers get less and less every year.
And good for you on going to school, an education is a good thing. But don't bitch about the good deal someone else got just because you got a raw one. Don't like where your working? Look for another job. It's a free market out there, right?
BTW. When those employees make less and less money, they spend less and pay less taxes, while the corporations get tax breaks.
This is good for America?
Manly -Tommy  September 14, 2010 05:32 PM
You went to school for 6 yrs and want something special??Try getting to Junior High before your next inane comment.It takes a man to work an assembly line not some nerd pushin keys.
John -To irksome  September 14, 2010 04:17 PM
Why would an assembly line worker make more then $16 an hour? I went to school for 6 years and have to re learn my Job every two years in software along with quarterly performance reviews just to keep my job. Why would a high school drop out make more more money than me?
irksome -Unions gave us the American middle class  September 14, 2010 04:10 PM
They'll be laying off union workers and hiring at $16 an hr with no benefits. The only good news is that this'll hasten their inevitable slide into oblivion as more people recognize that HD represents nothing so much as a bad marketing company. They ought to sack the execs who've perpetuated this archaic design but instead they sack those who represent their customer base. Too bad the union caved to their blackmail.
John -I hate unions  September 14, 2010 03:55 PM
They are everything thats wrong with this country. Stop negotiating with unions. Let the market rate set salaries.
Ole Dave -Nobody  September 14, 2010 02:40 PM
HD like other so called American manufacturers are not nearly so patriotic as they would have the public believe. I am old enough to remember when their racing dept was in Italy. At the same time the AMA was allowing them to race engines and transmissions that they never produced for public sale, or had not produced for decades, in an attempt to gain an edge over the Japanese that were not allowed to race many innovative machines because 'not enough had been sold in the US'. What tripe. It's easy to rant that freedom isn't free until it's your turn to pay up.