Last November, Harley-Davidson management warned its Kansas City unions and workers (800 full time and 675 paid hourly) that internal studies showed significant gaps in cost, efficiency and production flexibility at the plant.
At the time, company officials said at the time that plant’s work would be shifted to the one in York, PA. if the unions would not agree to a new labor agreement that addressed these gaps.
I remind you that last year Harley-Davidson put the same pressure on workers in York and Milwaukee and was able to negotiate very easily huge labor concessions. Nobody has any doubt that the threats made by the company in Kansas City will result in similar concessions through a new labor agreement. As Keith Wandell, President and CEO of Harley-Davidson stated again in his conference call yesterday morning while announcing the company 4th quarter 2010 financial results, he wants to company to become lean, agile and flexible. Practically, it means less labor cost via less full time employees, more part time and temporary workers with less or no fringe benefits and perks. The fate of the Kansas City plant will be decided in March.