Harley-Davidson shutdown triggers 207 layoffs at another Kansas City operation

Layoffs are spreading beyond Kansas City's closing Harley-Davidson assembly plant as one of its suppliers revealed plans to eliminate 207 jobs in mid-August.

The company, syncreon, which does sub-assembly and related work for the motorcycle factory, notified Missouri of its job cuts, saying they "are due to the announcement by Harley-Davidson Motor Company of its intent to close these entire facilities."

Many of the workers targeted for layoff are temporary, according to the notice from syncreon. It said only 76 are direct employees of the company, and only some of those are members of either of the two unions representing workers there.

A local syncreon official could not be reached immediately. The company is based in Michigan and has operations globally.

Many syncreon employees have been hired recently, within 90 days, said Joe Capra with the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers including Local Lodge 176 that represents some workers at syncreon. They have not been at their jobs long enough for full union membership.

Capra said many of the more seasoned workers at syncreon have left for other jobs, knowing the layoffs were coming. He also said these were the first job losses tied directly to the decision to close the Harley-Davidson plant.

And they're evidence that plant closings hurt a local economy beyond their direct layoffs, just as opening big manufacturing operations help local economies by more than their direct employment.

Harley chose Kansas City for the facility, which opened in 1998, after receiving government assistance and a lot of wooing from officials including then-mayor and now U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver.

"I remember having meetings with Emanuel Cleaver, then the mayor. He helped so much in getting this plant in Kansas City," Capra said.

Harley-Davidson has about 800 employees at the plant. The work is being moved to a plant in York, Pa.

The layoff notice from syncreon said the job cuts would happen between Aug. 17 and Aug. 31. Of the 207 workers, 179 are operators, 27 are forklift operators and one is a truck driver, the notice to Missouri said.

Harley-Davidson said it would close its Kansas City assembly plant in mid-2019. Capra said syncreon's cutbacks represent a slowdown at Harley ahead of the closing. Harley-Davidson has said it will lay off 180 workers starting Aug. 3.

Other union employees at sycnreon are represented by Local 760 of the United Steelworkers union.