Skip to comments.Harley-Davidson wants union to OK cuts in exchange for expansion
Posted on 10/14/2006 5:23:24 PM PDT by Extremely Extreme Extremist
MILWAUKEE (AP) Harley-Davidson Inc. has asked a union to approve wage cuts for new employees by as much as one-third and reduced benefits for everyone in exchange for a $120 million expansion of the company's factories in Milwaukee.
If the United Steel Workers Local 2-209 rejects the proposed cuts, the company will take the additions elsewhere, said Rod Copes, vice president and general manager of the company's Pilgrim Road plant in Menomonee Falls.
The union's 1,500 members will vote on the deal Monday. Local union president Jim Wheiland would not comment Friday, calling the issue ``an internal matter.''
Copes would not say how many jobs would be added if the union agreed to the terms and the company went ahead with the expansion, which would increase production of engines and transmissions for larger motorcycles.
Workers were first notified of the plan in a memo distributed late Thursday and Friday. The cuts would affect workers hired starting next year, lowering their wages by as much as a third. They would also reduce health and pension benefits. Existing jobs are not threatened by the plan, Copes said.
The deal depends on state financial help, Harley said. Gov. Jim Doyle said the state has already had good discussions with the motorcycle maker, though he would not provide details.
Copes said the expansion is needed because Harley soon expects to need more than the approximately one-quarter million power trains produced at the plants each year.
The memo said the expansion would allow the company to meet demand through 2010 and would affect plants in Menomonee Falls and Wauwatosa.
Harley employs about 4,500 in the Milwaukee area, including 976 people at the Menomonee Falls plant and 652 at the plant in Wauwatosa.
This is absurd. Whose company is it? The unions? I loathe unions.
Harley-Davidson is worker owned, so in a sense the union owns the company.
Harley is smart to avoid the GM syndrome - overpaying it's unions when times are good.
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