It’s confirmed. While Wisconsin workers were debating their new seven-year labor agreement, Harley-Davidson had already secured a 25 million dollars tax credit to keep 2 of its plants in Wisconsin.
The credits, spread out over nine years are linked to keeping jobs in the Milwaukee area and Tomahawk, along with capital investments by Harley and purchases from in-state suppliers.
Forcing its Wisconsin labor unions to accept a cut of 325 employees replaced by “casual” workers as needed and to agree on wage and benefit concessions by threatening to move manufacturing out of the state is one thing.
Now that cost-cutting has been done almost everywhere it was possible, Harley-Davidson must change its aspirations and fight to acquire a younger clientele. Harley’s core customers get older to the point that more and more can’t no more lift a leg over their bike. Women represent just 11% of buyers, and penetration in the African-American and Hispanic markets is very limited. Brand loyalty can’t be used to fight demographics. So, what is the solution? New cheaper models will say most observers. Is it enough?