Harley to invest $65 million in Pilgrim Road facility

Commitment part of new contract with USW

Assembled Milwaukee-Eight engines at Harley-Davidson's Powertrain Operations factory in Menomonee Falls, Wis., await shipment for final vehicle assembly. (PRNewsFoto/Harley-Davidson)

Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc. plans to invest $65 million in its 915,000-square-foot Pilgrim Road powertrain facility in Menomonee Falls.

Assembled Milwaukee-Eight engines at Harley-Davidson’s Powertrain Operations factory in Menomonee Falls, Wis., await shipment for final vehicle assembly. (PRNewsFoto/Harley-Davidson)

The company’s commitment to make the investment was included in a newly ratified five-year contract with the United Steelworkers Local 2-209, which represents around 730 workers at the plant. Harley also committed to investing $10 million at its Tomahawk plastic part and paint facility.

“These investments should ensure the long-term viability of our facilities,” said Mark Eilers, president of Local 2-209. “We look forward to working with Harley over the next five years to continue our shared success.”

Patricia Sweeney, a Harley spokeswoman, confirmed the investment amounts but declined to provide additional details about the timing or focus of the investments. She said the projects are part of the company’s “long-term plan to build the next generation of riders globally.”

Harley has faced a series of challenges in recent years including increased competition, the aging of its core riders and retaliatory tariffs on motorcycles destined for Europe. The company’s wholesale shipments are down nearly 34,000 since 2016 and more than 120,000 from the mid-2000s peak.

While the company has laid a series of steps aimed at increasing ridership in coming years, the decreasing demand led the company to announce plans to consolidate its Kansas City assembly facility into its York, Pennsylvania operation. The company is also combating European tariffs by moving production of some motorcycles to a facility in Thailand.

In announcing the new contracts, the United Steelworkers said the union was determined to address job security during negotiations. The two USW locals initially rejected a new five-year contract on April 1 but voted Monday to approve a substantially similar deal.

Neither the union nor Harley specified if the $75 million investments in the two Wisconsin plans was added before or after the unions voted against the contract.

The deal also includes a 14% raise, which will be the first pay increase for workers at the two plants in seven years. Average weekly wage for production workers in Wisconsin increased almost 18 percent from 2011 to 2018, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at 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.

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