The union representing most of the Harley-Davidson Inc. plant employees in Wisconsin has voted to reject a proposed five-year labor agreement with the company, while a union representing about 90 employees has accepted it.
Monday, United Steelworkers Local 2-209, which represents about 730 employees at Harley’s factory on Pilgrim Road in Menomonee Falls, turned down the proposed contract which included a $2,250 signing bonus and a retirement incentive for those eligible to retire.
Steelworkers Local 460, which represents about 280 employees at Harley’s plant in Tomahawk, also rejected the deal, while the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Lodge 78, representing about 90 employees in the Milwaukee area, accepted it.
Union officials declined comment, but in a statement, Michelle Kumbier, Harley’s chief operating officer said, “We are disappointed with the decision by our employees represented by USW Local 2-209 and Local 460 and will continue production as usual at all of our facilities.”
Sights and sounds of the Harley-Davidson 115th Anniversary Parade in Milwaukee
Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
In addition to the signing bonus and a retirement incentive, Harley said the contract offer for its Wisconsin employees provided a 14 percent wage increase over five years, no changes to health care coverage and significant pension enhancements for current employees.
Harley said the average wage for current, regular full-time bargaining unit employees under the first year of the deal would be more than $33 an hour in the Milwaukee area and more than $25 in Tomahawk.
The current seven-year contract was set to expire Monday, but Harley said the Steelworkers agreed to extend it until midnight April 14.
The contract offer included a wage increase in each of the five years, according to Harley.
“We believe the offer is competitive while continuing to provide a stable production environment as we focus on achieving our strategy to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders globally. We look forward to a return to further negotiations,” Kumbier said.
Harley has eliminated hundreds of manufacturing jobs at its U.S. plants, and in 2018 announced the closure of its assembly plant in Kansas City. The company also opened a plant in Thailand to build bikes for the Asian and European markets.
Harley is scheduled to announce the results of its first quarter of 2019 on April 23. Earlier, the company said it expected to ship between 217,000 and 222,000 bikes this year, the lowest in eight years as the motorcycle industry remains stuck in low gear.
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