Friday, September 10, 2010

Harley-Davidson's Milwaukee Contract Up For A Vote Monday

As recently as 2006, Harley-Davidson had a profit of $1 billion. Last year, it reported a $55 million loss and began a major resizing effort that has included the discontinuation of Buell products and the divestment of the MV Agusta unit.

Nearly 3,000 hourly production positions and about 720 non-production, primarily salaried positions, as well as about 100 salaried positions in the financial services segment have been eliminated. These activities helped the company turn a profit despite lower revenues in the first quarter of 2010, according to statements published in today's Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.

Union members must vote on new seven-year contracts on Monday, Sept. 13 that are aimed at keeping manufacturing in Wisconsin, but with a smaller workforce.

If the contracts are rejected, manufacturing could be moved to another state. Kansas City, Missouri has been mentioned as an option, but building a manufacturing facility in another state is not considered to be the most cost-effective solution.

The balance is between finding ways to become more competitive in a global marketplace without strongly favoring management over labor in the "rightsizing" process, say union leaders.