Harley-Davidson Inc. announced Tuesday that it plans to lay off 180 hourly workers at its plants in Milwaukee and Kansas City.
Out of the 180 plant workers, union leaders said, 97 will be from Kansas City. Harley stated that the cuts are based on poor earnings in the second quarter and will begin within the next few months. The Menomonee Falls plant in Milwaukee, which builds motorcycle engines, and the Kansas City plant, which assembles bikes, will be the only two affected.
“We believe we have the right strategies in place to attract new riders and continue igniting the passion of our current customers, and we will continue to manage our business with focus and discipline as we invest in growing the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders globally,” Katie Almquist, the company’s communication lead, wrote in an official statement.
The motorcycle company employs more than 600 steelworkers and machinists at its 400,000-square-foot Vehicle & Powertrain Operations facility near Kansas City International Airport. The plant produces the Sportster, Dyna and Street families of motorcycles.
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Harley shared the news with its employees Tuesday and Wednesday but has yet to meet with leaders from its unions, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and United Steelworkers. Out of the 97 expected layoffs, 68 will be machinists and 29 will be steelworkers.
The machinists and steelworkers “are disappointed that Harley-Davidson is forced to once again lay off hardworking Americans,” union leaders said in a prepared statement. “We are offering to meet with Harley-Davidson executives to discuss and explore all options for the short and long term health of the company, and most importantly, our members and their welfare.”
In the second quarter, the company’s motorcycle sales declined by 9.3 percent in the United States and by 6.7 percent worldwide. Revenue fell to $1.58 billion from $1.67 billion in the three-month period.
In September, Harley announced it would cut 118 jobs at its plant in York, Penn., and that production would move to Kansas City. This latest layoff announcement challenges that plan.
These layoffs also follow the news of Harley putting a manufacturing plant in Thailand, but the company stated that this would not affect United States plants.
“I think this always comes as a surprise to our members,” said Michael Bolton, district director for the Michigan and Wisconsin United Steelworkers. “I know I was not thinking that anything like that was going to happen yesterday.”