Steelworkers reject 5-year contract offer from Harley

Current deal extended as talks continue

Harley-Davidson headquarters
Harley-Davidson Inc.'s headquarters in Milwaukee.

Harley-Davidson Inc. and two steelworker unions in Wisconsin agreed to a two-week extension of their current contract after the unions did not ratify a new five-year deal.

Harley-Davidson headquarters
Harley-Davidson Inc.’s headquarters in Milwaukee.

United Steelworkers Local 2-209 and Local 460 voted down the agreement while the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers’ Lodge 78 approved the deal. Local 2-209 represents around 730 employees in the Milwaukee area while Local 460 represents 280 employees in Tomahawk. Lodge 78 represents 90 employees in the Milwaukee area.

Michael Bolton, USW District 2 director, said workers are facing “numerous non-economic and economic issues.” Those issues include seniority rights, temporary workers rights and other issues related to temporary workers, job security and scheduling.

“Unfortunately, the company has continued to make unacceptable demands on these hard-working union members,” Bolton said.

Michelle Kumbier, chief operating officer of Harley-Davidson Motor Co, said the company is disappointed in the decision but production will continue as usual. She said the company looks forward to returning to negotiations.

“We believe the offer is competitive while continuing to provide a stable production environment as we focus on achieving our strategy to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders globally,” Kumbier said.

In a press release, Harley said employees would have received a 14% wage increase over the five-year deal, an average increase of 2.8%. The average wage for current, regular full-time bargaining unit employees in Milwaukee would be $33 per hour in the Milwaukee area and $25 per hour in Tomahawk in the first year of the contract.

The deal also included a $2,250 signing bonus, no changes to health care, two variable incentive plans, pension enhancements for current employees and a retirement incentive for those eligible for retirement.

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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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