H-D Union Strikes


Nearly 2,800 union workers walked off the job Feb. 2 at Harley-Davidson's York, Pa., production facility, a move that proved to have a snowball effect on the manufacturer's other assembly operations.

Anticipating the walkout, Harley-Davidson one day earlier shut down York's Touring and Softail lines. Five days later, The Motor Co. stated that it planned to stop building powertrains and injection-molded components (which are made in Wisconsin) that would have been shipped to the assembly plant in Pennsylvania.

Engines and transmissions are built in Menomonee Falls, Wis., and injection-molded components in Tomahawk, Wis. Harley-Davidson said it anticipated that reduced powertrain production could result in temporary layoffs for up to 500 of its approximately 1,500 production and distribution employees in southeast Wisconsin.

Responsible for 60 percent of Harley-Davidson's cycle output, the York facility employs more than 3,200 union and nonunion workers building Softail and Touring motorcycles, as well as limited production models and replacement parts. Striking employees were from International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Local 175. The union voted Jan. 31 to authorize a strike after rejecting a contract offer, which the union says would have reduced pay rates for new hires, required employees to pay part of their health insurance premiums and forced pension concessions.

Harley-Davidson says the proposed contract provided for a 4 percent wage increase in each of the three contract years. Two percent of the increase was dependent on the union's accepting the company's salaried health care plan or another plan that would save the company an equal amount of money.

Harley-Davidson said the strike caused it to lower first quarter motorcycle shipments. The manufacturer had expected to ship between 82,000 and 84,000 bikes during the first three months of the year.