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Harley-Davidson, Union Agree On Expansion Plans

November 17, 2006
Filed under Features

Harley-Davidson has agreed to stop searching for a new manufacturing site for its power train operations after members of the United Steelworkers of America agreed to a new pact with the company.

The agreement, announced Nov. 14 after a 943-536 vote, means Harley-Davidson will begin planning a $120 million expansion to the company’s power train facility in Milwaukee. The move will create 100 new jobs.

The agreement comes approximately a month after members of United Steelworkers of America Local 2-209 had declined to support such a move because Harley had tied lower wages for new hires and reduced benefits to the expansion plan. The original plan had a larger wage gap for existing workers and new hires than the approved version, according to the Associated Press.

The lowest starting wage rate for new hires will be $18.25 an hour for power train production jobs, according to the union. But a training program will encourage workers to move up into machine operator positions that will pay $24.42 an hour. Current employees in those positions will continue to earn $28.83 an hour.

“Now we can look forward to expanding here, rather than worry about a rival plant that would produce the same product with newer, state of the art equipment,” local union president Jim Wheiland said in a union news release.

In its own press release, Harley-Davidson stated that expansion and reduced wages would help the company in the long term. “We have an obligation to stakeholders to manage costs across the entire organization that could be detrimental to our business in the long run if we don’t start to control them now.”

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