Harley-Davidson workers voted Monday to keep more than 1300 hundred jobs in Wisconsin. It was a close vote — with 55 percent voting in favor, and 45 against the deal. Twenty-two year veteran Rebecca Burt voted to reject the contract. She said it was important to stand up for the workers. “We’ve been threatened time and time again that they’re going to move and after awhile you just can’t be afraid anymore. You just have to pick up and do what you got to do.” Alan Beardsley is currently laid off. Before that he worked for Harley for more than eight years. Beardsley says he opposed the contract proposal…but is not surprised that a majority of workers voted for it. “Not with the economic condition. And I’m sure that the company used that to their advantage,” Beardsley said. “They know what the economy is and they’re going to play off of that as much as they can.” Harley had threatened to move the work to another state, if employees did not agree to concessions.
Machinist Brian Harycki has been with the company for 14 years. He doesn’t see much hope in the future, based on the deal approved Monday. “Keeps jobs in Wisconsin for a little while but who knows how long. There’s no guarantees and promises by the company,” said Harycki, who was among the 45 percent of union members who voted to reject the contract. Erin Spengler is a nine-and-a-half year veteran with Harley who also voted in the minority. Spengler worries that she’ll be let go, and rehired at the non-union, lesser pay grade that will be created by the contract. Spengler says it would be hard for her to take the loss in pay — and in benefits. “I have a child. I have a 14-year-old daughter who needs maintenance medication. I take maintenance medication, you never know — I had to take her to urgent care this weekend because she has strep throat. I can’t pay out of pocket for that.” The deal will allow some layoffs, and the hiring of seasonal non-union workers at a lower pay rate. Wages will be frozen throughout the 7-year contract.