Harley-Davidson Offering Voluntary Layoffs

To reduce staff at three plants in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area by about 26 percent or about 250 workers, Harley-Davidson Inc. is offering voluntary layoffs to hourly workers. giving itself flexibility to hire seasonal workers. The deadline is December 23, 2011 after which date involuntary layoffs will be implemented. The layoffs was first announced in September 2010 as part of a new seven-year contract with about 950 union workers. As of next April the manufacturer will hire 150 to 250 temporary employees for seasonal production spikes. Due to changes in its contract with Wisconsin workers, Harley expects to save $50 million annually starting in 2013. When the deal with the USW and IAM unions was struck in 2010, Harley-Davidson’s U.S. retail sales were down 12% from 2009. Harley-Davidson’s sales have recovered in 2011 but are still well below previous highs of 2005.

39 Responses to “Harley-Davidson Offering Voluntary Layoffs”

  1. 1 Boss Hawg Dec 19th, 2011 at 10:35 pm


    Lower costs and increase ROI…how ingenious

    Boss Hawg

  2. 2 Scott k Dec 20th, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Am I missing some thing here? they are laying off up 250 hourly workers so they can hire up to 250
    temporary hourly workers? Are these workers as skilled as the ones they just let go or are they
    just rehiring the ones they just let go? Im so confused.

  3. 3 Mike Dec 20th, 2011 at 12:46 am


    No more HD for me

  4. 4 Doc Robinson Dec 20th, 2011 at 3:59 am

    Voluntary layoffs, not compulsory layoffs. The Motor Company has to do what it has to do to survive and prosper. Surely we all want that?

  5. 5 viz Dec 20th, 2011 at 5:14 am

    Great job unions, Way to stick it to them

  6. 6 biker64 Dec 20th, 2011 at 7:23 am

    If Harley made all their parts in the USA and stopped out sourcing the work to third world countries theire would be no need for voluntary lay offs. Nice Christmas present to their loyal work force who help stuff the stockings of the share holders and management.

  7. 7 Jason Hallman Dec 20th, 2011 at 7:23 am

    This is a prudent measure. We all know folks in our places of employment that are beyond their “peak production” (personally) and in their “peak earning” (professionally) years. If these folks wish to have a solid retirement (who wouldn’t?) it may be wise to start here and begin crafting a plan for a life after HD. By hiring younger, less expensive labor (that is still American) HD and other manufacturers can insure the legacy costs (and lifestyle) that the previous generations have been promised. Remember…pigs get fat and hogs (no pun intended) get slaughtered.

  8. 8 Q-Ball Dec 20th, 2011 at 7:29 am


  9. 9 Drew Dec 20th, 2011 at 8:15 am

    So, someone who was a temp at a construction site last week, at a landfill the week before, and changing light bulbs at a retirement home the week before that will be building my new Harley next week? I hardly think so. It’s over. I’m done.

  10. 10 chopmonster66 Dec 20th, 2011 at 8:22 am


  11. 11 tattooeddmike Dec 20th, 2011 at 9:00 am

    This has to arouse many in the union labor side as well as those who oppose unions, I think it is just the beginning of the end for union labor at H-D unless the union members stick together and change the language in the next contract. If H-D is selling more product and now can afford to pay it’s labor force as opposed to a couplle of years ago, why now hire temps…. Oh, Yea, PROFIT MARGIN…. investors deserve their coin too, and if not for that their wouldn’t be investors…. This arguememt can go on forever,…. sorry for all of us union members,…. it is a sad time as it seens the majority want to expell unions and just give in to the socialist aspect of letting the corporate bigwigs, like big government do whatever it wants…. (by the contract of course.) I’m with you Mike, blue collar workers like myself would rather buy used than afford new.

  12. 12 BobS Dec 20th, 2011 at 9:29 am

    ScottK, the up to 250 workers they hire will come from the same pool of 250 they lay off. Only now they’ll be “temporary” workers. Lower pay, no benefits. Instead of designing and selling a better bike they can put the squeeze on their employees. Unlike H-D’s American competition which not only is profitable, but shares profits with the workers that make it possible!

  13. 13 pabstbluerigid Dec 20th, 2011 at 10:04 am

    hate, hate, hate, bitch bitch, bitch. How many of you have had to run a “mega-million dollar company,” answering to the demands/needs of thousands of employees, meeting expectations of shareholders, regulators at the government level and so on.

    everybody “knows it all.” i would do this, i would do that, – whatever. you would shit your pants and have a nervous breakdown if you had that kind of pressure.

    tough times call for tough measures. all have to adjust. drive down “mainstreet USA” – everyone is forced to make changes.

    we as Americans have adapted countless times for decades, centuries. nothing new. do you want Harley to survive? the future of the industry, like it or not – rests on their being here. would Drag, CCI – all those companies, employees, manufacturers, etc be doing “anything” without Harley. y’all are so jealous of th motor company’s success, longevity…

    whatever. wasting my time & energy.

    cruise this site for Cyril’s updates, and read the comments when i need a laugh.

    y’all have just had it “sooooo good” for “sooooo long” – time to Man Up.

    the strong survive.

  14. 14 43knuckle Dec 20th, 2011 at 10:28 am

    The factory equals greed and unions equal socialism.

    If the factory charges too much for and/or sells an inferior product, they will fold. If they hire unskilled labor it will be evident in their product quality.

    Labor unions have done nothing but drive up prices, slow down productivity and enable the left wing to have fat campaign coffers for years. The idea of labor unions was built on the idea of “mother russia” and the great soviet experiment.

    Get rid of labor unions and let nature take it’s course.

    If you don’t like the price or policies of a company don’t buy their products. If you keep buying their products they will keep running the company the way they do.

    If you don’t like the wages, benefits, conditions, etc, don’t work there. Surely a person doing a good job doesn’t need a union rep forcing the company to keep them.

    It’s all fairly simple.

  15. 15 roscoe Dec 20th, 2011 at 11:03 am

    The reason why this move is making so much news is because for years, the HD faithful were trying to convince the non HD riders to buy a HD because they are made in the USA, a true American company to be proud of, but now they see that HD is just like every other company out there, just like they have always been.
    So the reason why I should buy a new HD is..
    cuz it’s made in the USA? not really true.
    cuz they are a good union company? nope.
    cuz their bikes are superior? hardly.
    so you can look cool down at the tavern? yup, thats it.

    Before you slam me for being unpatriotic, I ride a Victory and I also own two Shovelheads. I would like to someday get a Evo powered bike, but I wont ever buy a new HD, for alot of reasons.

    HD makes a nice bike, but so does everyone else.

  16. 16 Matt Dec 20th, 2011 at 11:28 am

    I think it’s safe to say that the shareholders are now priority #1 at the Motor Company.

  17. 17 CafeSportyTC Dec 20th, 2011 at 11:55 am

    In my eyes the Company is doing the right thing. you have to do what you can to survive. for far to long in this country the unions have nearly destroyed companies. Let the company do what it needs to survive, and in the case of a good company they will take care of their employees. I work for a company that does exactly that. We have a slimmer production force but our output has improved drasticly and the company rewards the hard work. we have 401K , health care/vision/dental. Im very happy with it. its not a cush as it was when I grew up, My Father was part of a Grociers union it got our family through, but in the end the unions got so greedy that the stores told them to go to hell. they ended up settling for less so both the grocery stores and the unions could survive.
    no one ever seems to mention that the union fat cats are the ones usually benefiting from deals… the workers dont get the same deal , they just get a part of the pie… If i rambled i apologize I feel so strongly that the unions are not necessary anymore that it drives me up a wall when self entitled babies cry about having to get laid off when the company cant afford their wage… 40$ a hour for a union worker vs. 18.50$ an hour for temporary non union. do the math, if harley wants to keep up they have to trim somewhere.

  18. 18 Jason Hallman Dec 20th, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Harley Davidson has always ridden the fine line between bankruptcy and a license to print money. We all love the idea of our new Harley but we hate the taste left in our mouths when we realize that they sold us an unfinished motorcycle. Harley lacks the ability to keep things in line moderately…they always have. One decade they are on a shoestring budget the next they are printing their own currency.

    Look at the 1970’s. Harley built the shittiest motorcycle in the world and deserved to go out of business. Where was all the “union pride” then? We have all heard the stories of the oil pan under the bike in the dealer showroom. Some of those same men and women are the ones ready to retire and doing all the bitching about their pensions and all the other things that have gone the way of the do-do bird.

  19. 19 rebel Dec 20th, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    pabstblue and 43knuckle said it all, take care of yourselves, no one owes you !

  20. 20 Richard Dec 20th, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    The motor company “has to do, what it has to do” to survive. It’s as simple as that. If they do not do the cost cutting now, they will not survive. Then a lot of you will blame “management” for not doing what was necessary to save the company. In that case, they will permanently do away with everyone. You can’t have it both ways.

  21. 21 Jeff Nicklus Dec 20th, 2011 at 12:16 pm


    You hit the nail on the head with your comments!

    In my opinion Union Greed is exactly why American Manufacturing has gone off our shores! In simple terms, it is extremely difficult for American Manufacturing to be able to compete any longer. Factor in the Unions, EPA, DOT, NHTSA, IRS and about every other acronym you can imagine …… sometimes I ask myself why do I bother?

    HD is doing what every other company is looking to do “SURVIVE”, and nothing more. I thought HD were fools to negociate the latest contract with the Union ….. I would have moved the company to a Right to Work State in the south and told the unions to kiss my rosey red $@%.

    Anyway, that is my two cents worth!

    Over & Out,


  22. 22 Jason Hallman Dec 20th, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    As Americans we can all thank unions for benefits, fair work conditions, and the 40-hour work week.
    However…once the unions formed greed inside the ranks created the same kind of politics that has hurt our nation. The fact of the matter is there needs to be a kind of genocide within politics that will kill off the non-productive positions that only consume the union’s resources. The workers need to be represented by actual workers not white collar politicians that claim to understand the plight of the American worker.

  23. 23 BobS Dec 20th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    I would like to thank pabstbluerigid for taking time away from running his mega-million dollar company to educate the rest of us that think we know everything that we are wrong and he is the one that actually knows everything. Way to blame everyone but Harley for Harley’s troubles.

  24. 24 Rick Peyton Dec 20th, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I agree. The unions have corrupted their purpose. It is far from being about workers rights anymore and just about how much they can squeeze a company for wages and benefits. One of the reasons why American jobs have moved oversees. Not the only one but still a major one.

  25. 25 cwglide Dec 20th, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Jeff and Jason your both spot on with the Union’s. I would like to add; the Unions had there place when the workers were not protected. Its different now, there are gov regulatory requirements, labor governing boards, and laws to protect the employer and employees. However, who would not turn down a Union Job,,,,,$100’s an hour, huge benefit package, pension. Someone / entity has to pay for all that. Look at CalPers, all those pensions (babyboomers) are comming due and bankrupting this state along with all the fricking entitlements.

  26. 26 steve wheeler Dec 20th, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    In the UK now we are hosting the 2012 olympics …. i have friends working on there …massive security issues …. can take 2 days to get a permit to go in an area ….89% of the workers are non english … simple solution from the outset !!!

  27. 27 pabstbluerigid Dec 20th, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    perhaps i was not clear, specifically to ‘BobS.’

    i do not run a “mega-million dollar company, nor did i imply that.” the insinuation was that many like to pass jusdement yet how many have “been in the shoes of “a giant” like the HDMOCO. I meant, respectfully – WALK A MILE IN THEIR SHOES, huh? so many people shootin’ down management, comments of greed, etc. – new guy at the top has hasd to make some tough choices, and THAT is why an “outsider with NO TIES” was brought in. classic business model.

    management is trying to save an icon…or would some like to see them (HD) go the way of GM/Government Motors?

    i am easily old enough (?) to remember the tough choices that have had to be made for some four decades…since the 70’s. each decade brought new challenges. but we pressed on adapted. when the MOCO almost was NOCO (No Company) till the “family & friends” bought it back from AMF – that was a scary one? what about getting partially assembled bikes in the 70’s that dealers had to finish, lol? anyone from those so quick to pass judgement, anyone remember those times? we sucked it up and rolled on. bikes on the floor with cookie sheets & cardbaord beneath them…or redo the floor with black vinyle tile to cover the oil spots. i digress.

    J Nicklus had some great thoughts…American greed & unions go “hand in hand.” i love the thought of moving to a “right to work state!”

    J Hallman was also spot on too…

    i just get sick & tired of all the HD bashing, huh? we all need them/HD to succeed, and the “pie” is still big enough for all to have a slice.

    nuff said. gonna go ride.

  28. 28 Mike Dec 20th, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Pabst, You are entitled to your opinion, but the unions in this country are responsible for ordinary people buying F-150 4X4, Lexsus cars, Tahoes etc AND MOST of these people are common folk.

    The unions have been a problem in many ways, but more so is our Government and large corporations who continue to devalue our currency, open our borders to cheap labor and goods, pay themselves Mega Millions Annually and do very little to advance the American dream except every 4 years at election time.

    Most people are sheeples and do not think for themselves clearly, as neither did their parents nor the schools, MTV and all the other media crap components out there that do not want self reliance.

    Harley Davidson has been a source of pride over the years, but it is changing no doubt, IMHO they do not know who their true customer is and the competition IS rising to the occasion.

    Harley is playing hard ball with their unions, but the blood is spilling over to the customers.
    I own 5 Harleys, but couldn’t stomach their newer poor product , nor their public bashing and threats to their workers.

    They have their right to hire who hey want on their terms, just as I have my right to buy the competition. IT IS about where we are going as workers in this country, and I don’t care for the tone of many low wage proponents on here. How do you live on $15.00 / and no benefits? Work to 125 ?

    Too many people have sold out. and the future don’t look good, but I at least still won’t support a company who employs these type of tactics.

  29. 29 Fredp Dec 20th, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    I’m with Jeff N! Let’s get rid of all the government regulations, Union workers and be a great nation like China. Pollution so thick in Bejing that the population has to wear masks, planes are delayed from take off because it gets to thick (smog) on certain days, and in the last 10 years the incidents of lung cancer has risen 60%. Or and their water supply is a beautiful green color. But man, are they making money hand over fist! Why can’t the USA be like them? ( You all realize this is sarcasm, but truthful data)

  30. 30 Jeff Nicklus Dec 20th, 2011 at 10:47 pm


    If that isn’t a typical Democrat Scare Tactic bullshit comment I don’t know what is!

    No one wants dirty water or air nor do we want the Government up our ass every step of the way. Further, I agree with others herein, Unions have out lived their usefulness and need to become extent. We as Americans need to function based on our abilities and ambition without someone telling me that because they have more seniority I have to promote him/her …. that is bullshit. People of this country need to learn to stand on our own two feet again without someone in government propping them up.

    If we in this country don’t stop with this politically correctness crap and do it quick we are destine for failure.

    Over & Out,


  31. 31 olgraybeard Dec 21st, 2011 at 8:06 am

    Dry your eyes, put down your hankies, headlines sell newspapers. Harley Davidson became Employee Owned in 1982.Since it’s stock has hit the market in 1986, it has split or divided 12 times. I’ll let you do the math on what a $1,000 investment then would be worth today.

  32. 32 Smittydog Dec 21st, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    HD is greedy and want to line there pockets with more money. Also to keep shareholders happy.

  33. 33 Woody Dec 21st, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    FWIW their giving away Christmas trees at the H-D museum in Milwaukee, tomorrow I believe.
    The “voluntary layoffs” are just to see who wants out now without being forced, regardless of seniority. Bottom line is about 250 folks will be laid off. They estimated that number to be the ones who’ll be constantly laid off & brought back on & off while the rest of the core group stays working 100% of the time. In a time when unemployment can now be paid for almost 2 years is it any wonder companies are afraid to hire, or carry marginally risky employees as far “full employment” numbers. They plan to simply hire temp workers instead of recalling supposedly full-time employees, so they don’t have to pay those 250 positions anything when they’re not working. As far as the short order, it’s a good bet they’ll have a lot of the soon to be laid-off employees coming back a few times if they’re sitting unemployed when the call goes out. At least that’s what the MoCo is probably banking on.

  34. 34 Bigwoody Dec 22nd, 2011 at 10:15 am

    General Motors did the same thing. They had buyout incentives,retirement incentives and various other programs to get rid of seniority workers.

    Had my thirty years in so was not elgible for incentives. Retired anyhow,now I’m sorry. Bankruptcy,Governamental mandates, the UAW, and insurance companies screwed retirees. We were promised lifetime health care, cola increases. Thats all changed
    Has Harley found younger Chinese workers to produce their $60.00 jeans for less.

    Be wary of corporate and Union promises. They change CCorp is makinG money off of youR tax dollars Some of the gVt. bailout money went to build a new factory in China.
    My harley has more American parts than when it was built.


  35. 35 fuji Dec 22nd, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    A union leader, a Factory worker, and a CEO are sitting at a table.

    In the middle of the table sits a plate of a dozen cookies.

    The CEO reaches across, takes 11 cookies.

    He looks at the factory worker, and says.

    “Look out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie” LOL

  36. 36 danny snchez Dec 23rd, 2011 at 10:30 am

    and yet people still bleed h d what a joke

  37. 37 woody Dec 23rd, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    @fugi If there ever is a company where labor costs are only one twelfth, that’ll be a great joke 🙂

  38. 38 Hark Dec 27th, 2011 at 8:32 am

    Harley-Davidson brought this upon themselves by building way too many bikes years ago…they should have left the good times alone…the days when you had to wait for a bike where best. Back then our used bikes were worth a lot more, the stock did great…but greed set in…more more more was the answer…and it was wrong. Now workers have to pay the price of that greed. I love Harley, but sometimes I wonder if the sharpest people in business are running the company.

  39. 39 Mark Feb 9th, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    I worked for H-D York PA for 14 yrs they were a good company too work for they treated us very well although we built a whole lotta junk management could have carred less as long as the profits roled in but come 2008-9.The shit hit the fan and the workers were the problem.So out the door we went we were treated just the opposite.It was all our fault regardless of how management failed in everyway.As of today I have friends still working there and hate it, everything the job, management,quality,hours,payand I ve seen video inside the plant from cell phones.Your a fool to buy this crap They have temps walkin off the job because of the mind games and hatred!

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