Harley-Davidson halting U.S. production after positive coronavirus test

Shutdown will last through at least March 29

Harley-Davidson Milwaukee Eight engines assembled at the Pilgrim Road powertrain plant.
Harley-Davidson Milwaukee Eight engines assembled at the Pilgrim Road powertrain plant.

Last updated on March 19th, 2020 at 02:14 pm

Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc. will temporarily suspend production at its three U.S. manufacturing facilities after an employee at its Pilgrim Road Powertrain Operations plant tested positive for COVID-19.

“We recognize the unprecedented nature of this global crisis. In order to best support our employees and following the social distancing guidance issued by public health authorities, we are temporarily suspending the majority of production at our U.S. manufacturing facilities,” said Jochen Zeitz, acting CEO and president of Harley-Davidson. “We will continue to monitor the situation and take necessary steps to prioritize employee health and safety.”

In addition to the Pilgrim Road plant in Menomonee Falls, Harley also has production in York, Pennsylvania and Tomahawk, Wisconsin.

Harley has around 5,000 employees, including 2,000 union-represented employees at its three U.S. manufacturing plants. When the company reached new agreements with the unions nearly a year ago, the Pilgrim Road plant had around 820 represented workers and Tomahawk had another 280.

The company said the Pilgrim Road facility closed this afternoon after the positive test. The shutdown will last through at least March 29. The majority of U.S. production employees will be on temporary layoff with medical benefits, Harley said.

On Monday, Harley asked employees at its Milwaukee headquarters and Wauwatosa product development center to work remotely except for business-critical roles that must be done onsite.

Harley also said it is working proactively with dealers and asking them to follow public health guidelines in their own communities.

The company said it has cancelled all Harley-Davidson sponsored events until mid-April.

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Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers manufacturing for BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.