Harley-Davidson Inc. is offering voluntary layoffs to hourly workers at three plants in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area to reduce staff by about 26 percent, giving itself flexibility to hire seasonal workers. The company began making requests for the voluntary layoffs the week of Dec. 5. Workers have until Dec. 23 to decide. It makes motorcycle engines and parts at the plants.
Harley-Davidson’s plan for the layoffs was first announced in September 2010 as part of a new seven-year contract with about 950 union workers. It plans to lay off about 250 workers as of next April and hire 150 to 250 temporary employees for seasonal production spikes.
While Harley-Davidson’s hourly workers are not paid a set salary, they are considered part of the company’s overall headcount and are protected by union contracts that require negotiations on a variety of matters, including downsizing or changes to benefits.
Harley-Davidson spokeswoman Maripat Blankenheim said the company would wait until the Dec. 23 deadline before deciding whether to implement involuntary layoffs. Harley-Davidson, based in Milwaukee, has been retooling several aspects of its business since Keith Wandell became chief executive in 2009. In addition to
restructuring its workforce and factories, the company has begun focusing on attracting a wider range of buyers in the United States and emerging markets.
It expects to save $50 million annually starting in 2013 due to changes in its contract with Wisconsin workers. Harley-Davidson Inc. is offering voluntary layoffs to hourly workers at three plants in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area to reduce staff by about 26 percent, giving itself flexibility to hire seasonal workers. To read the full Chicago Trubune article click here.