Harley-Davidson York Plant Workers Approve New Union Contract

yorkassemblyToday, not surprisingly (read why), Harley-Davidson workers have overwhelmingly approved the new 7 year contract proposed to them. The vote was 1,587 for and 193 against. The contract was supported by union leaders. It calls for changes in work rules, a workforce reduction and a very soft commitment by the company to keep the plant in York County (details are here). Harley-Davidson was in advanced discussion to close York and move the plant to Kentucky. Harley’s board must now approve the contract on December 9th. The York plant is in charge of assembling the Softail & Touring models.

10 Responses to “Harley-Davidson York Plant Workers Approve New Union Contract”

  1. 1 union steamfitter Dec 3rd, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    This is good news and Kudos to the Harley management for being open and honest with their employees about their predicament. It’s great to see the 2 sides working together for a common goal.

  2. 2 just my opinion Dec 3rd, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Of course they took the deal. The other choice was unemployment. Nice bluff by HD. I wonder if they will be doing something simular at the other plants? Good for HD they should have done this sooner. But better late than never.

  3. 3 Woody Dec 3rd, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    wonder if the next new bike will be called the “Bendover” or “Drybone”..

  4. 4 tattooeddmike Dec 4th, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Like all the rest of the U.S. companies that have contracts with their union workers that see a contract coming to an end, the process of negoiations begins, and with it the grim reminder of the economy along with what has become the standard. Companies like to state lack of buisness, along with less profit, so all hourly employee’s need to take some type of concessions in the payment package……. cut the hourly rate of pay, cutbacks in medical insurance, as well as making the employee pay for a portion of their monthly medical insurance, and not to forget the retirement package. And then you will get to pay your deductable and then whatever percentage of the bills you incure. It will never end, and just gets worse as time goes on for the American workers that are left. Pro-Union or not, when you agree to work for someone or whatever company, you agree to work for them at whatever agreed rate of pay…. and you should WORK for them, not anything less. My point being, while legimate points are made about the lack of sales, it also seems that some companies like to manipulate and cite lack of work, and when a contract is setteled work returns or some sembalance of normalcy, all to boost the profit margin……. the bottom line. Complain about the unions all you like, but I believe there are more positives than negatives in being a union member. Just my opinion.

  5. 5 Mike Greenwald Dec 4th, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Stakeholders react to York Harley decision
    Here’s a sampling of reaction to Harley-Davidson’s decision to stay in York County:


    Harley-Davidson employees mostly shrugged Thursday afternoon when asked for their reaction to the company’s announcement.

    “I knew it was gonna happen,” polisher Randy Shetter said. “They screwed us for seven years, so why not?”

    Plant management didn’t hold any kind of special meeting to announce the company’s decision to stay in York County, said Troy Helwig, a plant prep tech who first heard the news in a text message from a friend and a post on the company’s Web site.

    “You would think they would’ve told us,” Helwig said. “But we found out on our own.”

    The employees were more upbeat than expected Thursday after approving an unpopular contract Wednesday, said Fred Craver, a plant manager.

    “I expected hard feelings,” Craver said. “. . . They sucked it up and did what they had to do.”

    Union leader

    Tom Santone, directing business representative for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 98, said he feels good the plant is staying, but he also knows there is much work ahead to keep as many jobs as possible.

    “You can’t be 100 percent happy unless you retain 100 percent of the jobs,” Santone said.

    And while he said the cuts in the end might not be as severe as Harley has announced, a long-term issue with job losses will be Harley’s plan to outsource noncore production work.

    Santone also said the union workers have helped Harley get through other issues in the past, so its concessions shouldn’t come as a surprise to critics of the union.

    “This work force has always been serious about keeping jobs here,” Santone said.

    In Kentucky

    Libby Adams, executive director of the Shelby County Industrial & Development Foundation, said she is sure Harley officials made the right decision for its company and wishes them well.

    “We enjoyed working with the Harley team,” Adams said.

    She also said her community hopes this process helps it attract other businesses down the road.

    Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear’s office issued a statement that expressed disappointment and optimism about its experience with Harley.

    “Because of the successful conclusion of their recent union negotiations, Harley-Davidson has made the decision to keep its operation in York, Pa. This was not unexpected. While we are disappointed by their decision, we are proud of the efforts of our economic development officials, as well our local partners in Shelby County. The fact that Kentucky was Harley-Davidson’s number one choice if the company had decided to move bodes well for our future success.”

    In York County

    “I think this is a relief,” said Bob Jensenius, executive vice president of the York County Chamber of Commerce.

    He also said everyone involved with the process should be complimented. It is the first and only case of such a radical contract overhaul to keep a large company in the area that he can remember.

    Of course, Caterpillar pulling most of its York County operations out years ago probably helped the community seriously fight this fight.

    “We’ve seen it,” Jensenius said.

    And not to be lost is the fact that hundreds of people will lose their jobs, he said.

    Jerry Myers, president of York Motorcycle Club, which has members who work at Harley, said he was glad to see the company is staying in York County.

    “I think it’s part of York County’s history,” he said. “I know they’re losing at least half their work force. Still, that’s better than all of it.”


    State Sen. Mike Waugh, R-Shrewsbury Township, said he is relieved that Harley decided to keep the plant in York County.

    He called Harley a “vital part of the York County manufacturing infrastructure,” from the plant itself to the fact that it is a signature company the community can brag about.

    He also said all of that is bittersweet because of the job losses.

    State Rep. Keith Gillespie, R-Hellam Township, said Harley’s decision definitely comes with a “mixed bag” of emotions, considering the large number of jobs that are being saved and the large number of jobs that are being lost.

    State Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-West Manchester Township, said the news was “about as good as can be expected” and a major step forward considering where the issue was more than six months ago.


    Lancaster County’s ability to attract tourists relies heavily on the appeal of its Amish Community. Each year, Gettysburg’s role in the Civil War lures families and history buffs alike to the small Adams County community.

    York County’s claim to tourism fame is Harley-Davidson.

    “It’s huge for our economy on so many levels that Harley has decided to stay,” said Anne Druck, president of the York County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Because of their iconic status and because they have been here so long producing bikes, the company has become part of the fabric of the community.”

    The county is home to nearly 20,000 tourism-related jobs, she said.

    Druck said she doesn’t believe that Harley’s plans to cut its full-time staff to 700 to 800 workers will affect the local tourism industry.

    “People are not coming to see 1,000 workers,” she said. “They are coming to see bikes being assembled.”

    Springettsbury Township

    “That’s great news. They’ve been a great neighbor and an excellent business for the township,” said John Holman, Springettsbury Township manager.

    “We’re hoping that Harley maintains as many of the workers as possible and hopes it will be able to grow into the future.”

    Real estate

    While many people across the county appear to be relieved that Harley-Davidson has agreed to retain its operations in Springettsbury Township, one local real estate agent has questioned the manufacturer’s seemingly dominant position in the community.

    The company plans to shrink its employee base from about 1,950 to 700 or 800 full-time employees and 200 to 300 “casual” workers.

    “If they cut as many workers as they say they will, Harley will not be a dominant force in the community,” said Deb Lowry, manager of Coldwell Banker Select Professionals in Springettsbury Township. “Harley pays good wages. If they cut that many workers, these guys are going to go somewhere else outside of York County to find comparable wages.”

    That means those laid-off workers could either spend a large portion of their time commuting to jobs outside the area or be forced to sell their homes and move from York County.

    “I think that many people who bought houses bought them when they were making their Harley wages,” Lowry said. “So, many of them might not be able to make their house payments.”


    “I’m glad to hear they’re staying,” said Joe Sciarrabba, owner of J & J Cycle Barn in Manchester Township, which repairs, services and restores Harley-Davidson motorcycles and serves some Harley employees.

    “It speaks highly of the York County workers to take that much of a concession to keep jobs in York County. That just amazed me that so many of them were willing to give up their jobs to keep work in York County.”

    Service industry

    A portion of U-Gro enrollment comes from the children of Harley-Davidson workers, said Dee Dee Sekeres, director of the child care and education center in Springettsbury Township.

    “I think the job cuts will impact the community as a whole,” she said. “It’s hard to say how it will impact us. We look forward to serving Harley families going forward.”

    Harley’s decision not only benefits the community, but also local eateries such as San Carlo’s Restaurant and The Hop in Manchester Township. During Harley-Davidson’s Open House Weekend, in September, San Carlo’s opens its entire 212-spot lot to motorcycles.

    “In terms of sales, that is one of the biggest weekends of the year for us,” said Bill Tufarolo, co-owner of the business. “I think the news is wonderful. We had been very concerned about the outcome and what decision Harley executives would make to either to stay or leave.”

    The restaurant might create a promotion to celebrate and thank Harley for staying in York County, he said.

    “We can now move forward,” Tufarolo said.

    Reported by staff writers Brent Burkey, Sean Adkins and Kevin Horan.

  6. 6 Brett Dec 5th, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    It’s the world we live in now. Ok the one guy is a POLISHER. He probably makes $25 or more an hour to make bikes shine. All the people bitching about companies doing this type of thing, in Wisconsin they just went through this with Mercury Marine was was going to close down the Fon Du Lac plant & move to Oklahoma, well get out & go find a new job. I can tell you what..other then Mercury Marine, there are very few jobs in Fon Du Lac that will pay $15 or more an hour. It’s a very small town & the only other businesses that pay very well are businesses that are in business to supply parts to Mercury Marine.

    With the way things are, be happy you are employed because many of us aren’t so lucky. People also need to start understanding, things go in cycles. The bike fad is over anyway, but now with this economy, people don’t have money to spend on a new bike when their 2001 is still perfectly good.

    Harley’s mistake was when times were good, going over board & putting up new plants for just Sportsters & getting some of these people jobs in the 1st place. Anyone with a brain should have been able to see it wouldn’t last forever & the balloon was going to burst.

  7. 7 union steamfitter Dec 5th, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    The bottom line is that they got to save their jobs. I’d agree they should be happy to have a job as their are many who don’t right now. If that guy feels like he was getting “screwed” for 7yrs as he states; why not get another job? Someone holding a gun to his head making him stay there? One thing I’d like to know is if HD thinks that the outsourcing will hurt business? I say this because they so often use the “Made in America” slant as part of their marketing.

  8. 8 Tulsa Patriot Jul 27th, 2010 at 7:57 am

    If I know unions, the Harley will suffer in quality because of the forced reduction.
    Beware of the new models made “after” the new contract!
    My opinion only!

  9. 9 Walt Prater Sep 14th, 2010 at 9:01 am

    The only real sorrow here is that another community would accept H-D after what they have done and shame on another man who would work for them if they did leave. H-D would do the same to the new communities as the old.
    Cut the lines of bikes that don’t sell (get rid of the CVO) and cut real company waist not the loyal employees. I have bought 3 new Harleys , the worksmanship is second to none……..this is a tribute to the craftsmen not Willie G , who parades around while the workers carry his lack of even knowing what his product is and his poor designs………..he is the first one who should be laid off now. God bless the workers in the days ahead and continue to do what they do best , make the best products in the world.

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