Harley Davidson to cut 180 jobs at Milwaukee and Kansas City plants
By Benjamin Mateus
24 July 2017
On July 18, Wisconsin-based motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson announced it was eliminating 180 US manufacturing jobs due to a poor annual forecast and slumping demand. Stocks plunged from $52.01 to $46.33, a fall of 11 percent, overnight on the announcement that motorcycle shipments would decline by as much as 6 to 8 percent compared to 2016.
The planned job cuts, which are to take effect in the next month or two, will hit workers at the company’s Kansas City and Milwaukee plants, according to officials from the International Association of Machinists (IAM) and United Steelworkers (USW). The company’s corporate offices are in Milwaukee and it has two plants in Wisconsin, one in Kansas City and one in York, Pennsylvania.
Neither the IAM nor the USW even made a pretense of fighting the threatened layoffs. In February, union officials joined company executives and President Donald Trump at the White House to praise the motorcycle company as an “American success story” and boost the president’s reactionary “Make America Great” economic chauvinism.
Last year Harley-Davidson cut 200 jobs, and in April of this year, another 118 workers were axed at the York plant with those positions to be shifted to Kansas City. With approximately 6,000 employees, previous and current cuts amount to about 10 percent of the workforce in one year’s time.
Since the financial crash of 2008, Harley has steadily slashed more than 25 percent of its workforce, or some 3,500 jobs. Hourly employment in the York plant has fallen from 2,000 in 2009 to 1,000. In 2015, 250 jobs were cut at the Menomonee Falls plant in Wisconsin.