Decision Day For Harley-Davidson Workers

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Harley-Davidson Jobs Under Threat
by Vanessa Bostwick

Harley-Davidson is asking their employees in Wisconsin to vote today in favor of a labor contract that will cut hundreds of jobs, freeze pay, and force full-time employees to ratchet down their hours.

At least 200 jobs would be eliminated in Milwaukee and another 75 jobs could be slashed in Tomahawk. Harley will also be allowed to bring in temporary employees to work for half the hourly rate of full-time employees and no benefits. Long-term workers will be subjected to a wage freeze.

If the employees do not accept Harley’s proposal, the company could make good on its threat to move its last two Wisconsin operations to another state, which would leave 1,350 workers unemployed.

The employees are set to vote today. The decision will be known by the evening. If the contract is approved, it will be in affect for the next seven years.

According to an article on the Associated Press, the Milwaukee-based motorcycle company blames its hardball tactics on finances. It says labor costs at its Milwaukee and Tomahawk plants are too high and it only makes sense to keep them open if the workers agree to labor concessions.

But workers at the plant think the company is turning their back on its longtime loyal workforce.

A product development mechanic told the AP that Harley is “putting the squeeze on us. This is a downright attempt to crush the union.”

Despite workers’ objections, Harley’s three unions are backing the labor contract, most likely because they have little leverage.

Harley has been seeking out replacement facilities in other states and has not kept this fact under wraps. A spokesperson declined to say where or how many facilities are being considered. Even if the production facilities are established elsewhere, Harley’s headquarters will remain in Milwaukee.

Additional Note By Dinesh Ramde : The seven-year deal would freeze their pay, slash hundreds of jobs and assign large volumes of work to part-time workers. If the employees reject the deal, Harley has said it will move its Wisconsin operations to another state, leaving about 1,350 employees here out of work.


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