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Union: Harley plans job cuts even if contract is approved


UNDATED (WSAU) Harley-Davidson plans to cut hundreds of Wisconsin jobs, even if union workers approve a new labor contract. That’s what members of the United Steel-workers were told in Waukesha yesterday.

Union negotiators have agreed to a new seven-year contract that would cut an un-specified number of jobs from Harley’s motorcycle engine plant in Menomonee Falls. The company says around 200 workers would be let go by the end of 2012. But employees said their union leaders expect it to more like 550, or half the 11-hundred people who now work there.

Union members will vote Monday on the package.

If they say no, Harley says it would close the Menomonee Falls and Tomahawk plants and move the production to where it’s cheaper. Tomahawk employees will get the details today. Under the contract, Harley would hire seasonal employees designed to be more flexible in adjusting to market conditions. Those workers would get just over half of what union members make in similar jobs, and would get no fringe benefits. The most experienced employees would have wage freezes, but the deal has a series of bonuses, plus raises later on. Harley’s Bob Klein says wages would still be well above other Milwaukee area firms for similar work.