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Hardball for Harley’s Kansas City Workers

Friday, November 5, 2010
Harley-Davidson is calling for concessions from its workers at the Motor Company’s Kansas City plant. The Kansas City Star reports that without changes to the labor contract, H-D has said it may have to move KC operations to its facilities in York, Pennsylvania.

Labor vs. Management. Kansas City workers are next in the concession line as Harley-Davidson threatens to move production once again. Harley-Davidson CEO Keith Wandell.Harley-Davidson CEO Keith Wandell

If this sounds eerily familiar, it’s because Harley played the exact same cards when it threatened to shut down production operations in its home base of Wisconsin. Workers later agreed to slash 325 union jobs from the Menomonee Falls and Tomahawk plants. The new agreement also called for the replacement of full-time workers with part-time workers, or as H-D refers to them “casual” workers. (Harley-Davidson Stays in Wisconsin )

Harley pushed through the concession-filled labor contract in Wisconsin with implicit threats that production would be shifted to the Kansas City plant. Harley also scored $25 million in tax breaks from the state of Wisconsin in the proposed move (UPDATE: Harley-Davidson has since turned down the $25 million incentive from the state).

H-D followed the same modus operandi last year when it threatened to shut down its plant in York, Pennsylvania. Harley said it was slated to move the York production to Shelbyville, Kentucky. With Kentucky's Governor, Steve Beshear going so far as to reportedly pledge a special legislative session to offer incentives wooing H-D jobs.

York workers would go on to ratify a labor contract in December of 2009 that slashed the workforce from approximately 1950 to 750. (Harley-Davidson to Remain in York)

Now the rotation could conceivably work out in York’s favor, as the Pennsylvania facilities are slated as the relocation of Kansas City operations.

The Kansas City news got lost in the shuffle when Harley-Davidson announced earlier this week that it would open up an assembly plant in Haryana India, as the American manufacturer looks to crack the high-volume Indian market. (Harley-Davidson to Open India Assembly Plant)

As for America’s Kansas City workers, they’ll get the holidays to mull over their fate. H-D is expected to announce its KC plans in the first quarter of 2011.

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Bandit in MN -Still can't understand this mess  November 23, 2010 03:44 AM
Excuse me - but I can't picture these Indian people in a manufacturing plant at all. Someone else mentioned the hilarity of what an Indian with a big, red dot on his face wearing a t-shirt with the Confederate flag on it. Well, I guess they'll also wear t-shirts with the American flag and get tattoos. I also wonder if there will be any women riders. Women can't go to school, drive, own anything, hold accounts or vote because India treats women as a possession - a thing to own like a chair. Okay so I may not be fully informed on their culture - but isn't that exactly what they do to us? They don't know a thing about us and I believe that a majority of us don't know much of them, either. Don't they have the caste system and not the class system? I know they don't have church/state separation; wtf man. I'm pissed.
GB -Nathan  November 9, 2010 04:43 AM
you better thank the union workers for getting you benifits you take for granted. how would you like to work 6 days a week, 12 hours a day for a $1 a hour? like your paid holidays? maybe you enjoy the security your family has knopwing you can't be fired for a whim? sure there are union people who rape the system just like there are non union people who do. without unions there would be no middle class.
1972b50mx -History Repeating  November 8, 2010 04:58 PM
Anyone else get the impression this could be a royal enfield situation?
Willie -Face it.  November 8, 2010 06:07 AM
The bikes are overpriced and have no or outdated technologies. No one wants that crap anymore.
Jaimeb -H-D Kansas City workers  November 7, 2010 10:23 PM
Year 2015 - all few remaining H-D workers have become "casual" employees. Their salaries have been fixed to the (then) minimum wage the Tea Party has voted in 2014 - $5.50/hr - and only work 20 hours a week. All manufacturing is in India with sub components brought from independent vendors in China.

Their main job now (then) will be to assemble whole bikes from Indian and Chinese manufactired parts (kits). Factory warranty for new bikes will be an abreviated 7 days after purchase, but hey, they will be CHEAP and bikerrandy will then buy one.
wildpig -mr wildpig to you  November 7, 2010 05:04 PM
DO YOU GET A FREE BOWL OF CURRY WHEN YOU NOW BUY A NEW INDIA DAVIDSON? i hope hd dont insult me by continuing the bullshit of-- made in america. and i own a meticulous fxstsb --which im sure most o you morons aint gotta clue what that is,, 115,000 miles btw.
fast2win -you missed the point  November 7, 2010 09:55 AM
What Italian bike you ride Randy is irrelevant. The point is, our can buy an equevalent bike for less money than Italian. You pay more for that bike for your own good reason. (I will never buy a product that costs more just because it's US workers are paid more if I can get a comparable product cheaper. I represent most other consumers.)But you will pay more for an Italian product. The article is more about HD trying to cut costs in this country to stay competitive. If they weren't so damm stupid over the last 10yrs. they wouldn't be in such a bad predicament. As good of a job they did keeping their core customer, they left R&D stagnent with products for new customers. As seen with Buell. Let me explain. They owned Buell yet they blew money in a MV purchase. Why would you not let Buell build an MV crusher !! ie:1190RR. Huge loss. Not only in money but in new customers that they need instead of investing in Buell they buy MV dumb. #2 HD finatials greedy ass looses on risky loans and drags the co. into the shit mess they are in. The economy takes a dump and now instaed of having a wider customer base they could have had buy coming up with truley new products instead of just updating what they have, they find themselves in the dumps. If any body should have been able to ride this ecomy out Harley should have been able to. They did not invest their obscene profits well at all. Did you ever wonder why V Rod sales are low. In my opinion they should make a larger choice of V rod powered bikes. It's a great engine but the power cruiser style is too limited to draw a wider market share. On its inception Porsche had told HD that like their big twin, they should build several platforms for the engine. HD obviosly ignored them. Buell got hosed. Since they bought Buell they ruined him. They had since 96 to grow a brand of performance and sport touring bikes that would bring in new customers. But instead before they killed Buell they really only had 2 platform XB12s and 1125rs. With all the money they make on ash trays and underware they should be ashamed to have to borrow money. They should have been saving a ton of money if they weren't going to invest it in truly new products.
irksome -Nathan  November 7, 2010 07:27 AM
When you refer to the "fat cows feeding at the public sector trough" you are, of course, speaking of the HD execs who've driven HD into the shitter and who just coerced a $25 million tax break from the State (read: people) of Wisconsin, right? How much did they pay for MV? And then they sold it back to the same guy for a buck? Maybe they should hire him instead of the blue jean salesman.
Nathan -Good riddance...  November 7, 2010 07:01 AM
Union thugs! I just love the sycophantic support for these union thugs , they get paid way more than they are worth and receive benefits that real working Americans couldn't imagine. NEWS FLASH: They are unskilled workers doing what a monkey could do, they don't DESERVE the outrageous pay that they get and HD has an obligation to it's stock holders to trim this fat. Good riddance to dead weight. Now if we can just get ride of the fat cows feeding at the public sector trough we will all be in better shape.
Gritboy -Sad  November 7, 2010 06:25 AM
One word: sad.
Ironman Greg -Corprate America  November 7, 2010 02:24 AM
This is just amother corprate america decison to get rid of the middle class worker. It has nothing to do with Harley or motorcycles. Over the last 10 yrs coprate america has been slowly getting rid of the middle class jobs. Soon in this country there will be just the rich and the poor.That is what they want. The big three did the same thing closed plants and got money from the government, then they reopened the same plants with lower paying jobs. Did you read GM made over 2 billion in profits. Who gets that money EXECUTIVES, When will the American Worker going to stop this.
We all need to stop working for a month and not pay any bills and see what the rich think of that. Nobody to make there food or pick up there garbage and pamper them. This is AMERICA and we where founded on hard work and the middle class not the rich. Also the republicans or demacrats can not stop this because they are both owned by the rich lobbyists in america only we can. When will we all open our eyes and stand up to corprate anerica and take back our America.
bikerrandy -fast to win  November 6, 2010 04:53 PM
I don't own any Ducatis, MVs like you seem to assume. Nor have I ever bought any expensive Jap. bikes. Sorry to diappoint you. I also keep my bikes for many yaars and most of them are pretty much reliable.

Why would I pay more for a bike than I have to and still worry about it's reliability. 95% of bikes I see on the side of the road are Harleys. Is that the "life style" they sell ?
fast2win -Jobs  November 6, 2010 04:36 PM
Ding dong's. No one is loosing a job in the us when H.D. assembles bike's in India for the Indian market. Now if they start to ship them back here because it's cheaper to do it that way I have a problem. And biker Randy thinks HDs are over priced yet owns Italian bike's and jap bikes Hmm sounds like an oxy moron. So you own jap bike(cheaper) and Italian bike (more expensive) yet a owner of an HD vs jap cruiser, is somehow seen as dumb in your opinion. And I will spend a little more for a made in USA product, My vanson leather wasn't cheap but 12 yrs later and countless of ten of thousands of mile 2 spills later it hasn't even a thread come loose. A cheaper popular leather would be in the trash. Sometime you get what you pay for.
mcguire -sewer rat  November 6, 2010 04:29 PM
Is Willie G. gonna have to sell his Ferrarri? Aawwwwwwww!
2boyz -milwaukee mike  November 6, 2010 02:28 PM
Mike That 'not true' HD is keeping people employed (Americans too I believe). As a resident of planet earth who does not live in the US of A I can see why Haley Davidson is having to make calls like they are. Indian have a population of over a billion plus. A lot of them are starting to earn reasonable money, currently bikes over 250 are taxed out of this world so Harley figures if they build them there they will not have the import taxes and with a lot of potential customers it's a win win. Kind of like Honda, Toyota & Nissan etc making product in the states, it's good business, don't be surprised if you see Haley's being assembled in China as well and probably the real poorly performing,heavy & braked ones along with the metric heavy but okay performing one.
Mitch -M Mike/ Importance of KC plant.  November 6, 2010 09:40 AM
Mike your character may not be a fan of the V-rod or the KC plant and it's workers by association. However you are forgetting that they also assemble all the Sportster and Dyna models (pending India plant opening). And even if you don't care for those models either they still make up Harley's "entry level" market. Witch I don't have to tell you the motor company has been leaning on heavily for sales the last few years.
bikerrandy -HD worker threat  November 6, 2010 09:15 AM
As soon as 1 competitor goes this route, you have to to stay in business. It's that simple. It's called competition. I remember when only pharmacies, gas stations were open on Sundays. As soon a 1 department store(forget which) competitor stayed open on Sundays, eventually everybody else had to compete.

Also in this move you can blame the US govt. for it's taxes compared to other countries where they want more workers opportunities.

I will never buy a product that costs more just because it's US workers are paid more if I can get a comparable product cheaper. I represent most other consumers.

I will never buy a HD if for no other reason than the outrageous prices. I own Japanese and Italian rigs that will blow the doors off a HD. I also already have a "lifestyle".
Dennis -Jeff  November 6, 2010 09:01 AM
BTW, love the web site. I will pass it on.
Dennis -Jeff  November 6, 2010 08:58 AM
The reason our beloved leaders don't pay attention to this is that it isn't a problem for them. They are in the pockets of Big Business. They own stocks, are on the boards or are supported by the very companies that profit off of us. They already have jobs and benefits for life from the government. Why should they care? Republican, Democrat, Tea Party, whatever, they could care less about the country, the people, only about themselves. We are very quickly going backwards to when workers had no rights, no safety at work. Soon the very young will be working, the sick and the old. It'll happen.
Trying to relate -Question?  November 6, 2010 06:21 AM
So labor costs are too high at Harley Davidson. How much of a cut has the upper management taken in pay and bonus's? They are the ones that keep the company in the dark ages. Not the workers.
snail -Love milwaukee mike  November 5, 2010 11:22 PM
LOL, this guy must be a true pirate....har har har
True HOG rider should just ride iron block - carbureted - drum brakes - spoke wheel - bias ply tires - kick starting 6 volts kiddie bike.
Dennis -V-Rod isn't a Harley?  November 5, 2010 09:51 PM
That's the problem with HD owners. If isn't some ancient design, they don't want it. Forget moving into the 21st century, lets use horses and buggies. It's all about looks, not about if the thing actually works well. The V-Rod and the Buells were indeed Harley Davidsons. It said so on the tank and they sure took the money from customers when they bought them. I guess if you don't have the appropriate doo rag, vest and chaps on, your not a "real" Harley rider. As far as this new labor tactic, it's nothing new. It's a divide and conquer strategy companies have been using for years. I've seen it happen several times at companies I've worked for and then ended up getting laid off. I guess I deserved it for not being a "real" American worker. Yup, Harley is turning into just another greedy corporate giant and giving their workers the shaft while the upper management rakes in the cash for themselves. Shut down the KC plant? Way to milwaukee mike! Lets really support our fellow American workers!! I will never, ever, buy another Harley ever again. I will not support them. And I hate to say that because those workers are my fellow American Brothers and Sisters just trying to earn a decent living. I'll say it again. Never will I buy a Harley Davidson product ever again.
irksome -Milwwaukee Mike is a pitiful excuse for a human being.  November 5, 2010 08:46 PM
So did you see that HD is shipping disassembled "kits" to India for assembly? Fewer jobs for Americans. And those "casual workers" (HD's term) making casual bikes casually? Paid $17 an hr as contractors with zero benefits. Next, HD gets to bribe another state for $25 million to keep a factory open while the pinheaded suits who effed up the company laugh all the way to the bank. So in your feeble little one-track mind, it's okay to threaten the livelihood of KC plant workers since they don't build the bikes that "true" HD riders want, huh? My disgust for you and the merchandising company that is HD is tempered only by the fact that you're actually a 14-yr old pimply faced mama's boy who only sits down at his keyboard when his dick gets too sore from jacking off onto pictures of Justin Bieber. You and your ilk are the reason that HD will eventually sink into oblivion. It's only sad in that it will cost "true" American workers their jobs. For the rest of you, good riddance. I see you broken down on the side of the road and I laugh.
milwaukee mike -shut down KC plant  November 5, 2010 07:00 PM
That is where the metric V-Rod is built. The V-Rod is not a real HD at all. True HOG riders don't buy these anyway.