Harley-Davidson announced Tuesday that it will keep production operations in Wisconsin. The decision follows Monday’s ratification of three respective new seven-year labor agreements by employees represented by United Steelworkers (USW) Local 2-209 and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Lodge 78, both in Milwaukee, and USW Local 460 in Tomahawk, Wis. The agreements take effect in April 2012 when the current contracts expire. United Steel Workers Local 2-209 President Mike Masik said Monday that members weren’t very happy about the contract, but they didn’t have much choice either when considering the alternatives. Harley-Davidson produces motorcycle engines and transmissions at its plant in Menomonee Falls near Milwaukee and motorcycle components in Tomahawk.
“Change is never easy, and we have asked our employees to make difficult decisions. However, we are pleased to be keeping production operations in our hometown of Milwaukee and in Tomahawk,” said Harley-Davidson President and CEO Keith Wandell. “Together, we are making the necessary changes across our entire company to succeed in a competitive, global marketplace while continuing to meet and exceed the expectations of our customers.”
“Today’s announcement by the Harley board that they will keep operations here in Wisconsin, and yesterday’s vote by workers to accept a new contract, are good news in a tough situation. By keeping Harley in Wisconsin we have protected hundreds of jobs, both at their operations and with their suppliers,” said Governor Jim Doyle. “Harley has faced new challenges in difficult national economic times, but the State made the company and workers a top priority, and provided a very competitive incentive package to help ensure Harley’s jobs stayed in Wisconsin.”
Based on the new ratified labor agreements, Harley-Davidson expects to have about 700 full-time hourly unionized employees in its Milwaukee-area plants when the contracts are implemented in 2012, about 250 fewer than would be required under the existing contract. In Tomahawk, H-D expects to have a full-time hourly unionized workforce of about 200 when the contract is implemented, about 75 fewer than would be required under the current contract. Harley-Davidson also expects its Wisconsin production workforce to include 150 to 250 casual employees on an annualized basis to cover seasonal volume spikes, vacations and other absences as the new labor agreements are implemented.