Harley to leave Milwaukee? - Chicagoland Sportbikes
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-05-2010, 11:13 AM Thread Starter
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Harley to leave Milwaukee?

http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2...milwaukee.html

After 107 years, Harley could leave Milwaukee

August 5, 2010 8:33 AM |

MILWAUKEE -- It's the roar that made Milwaukee famous -- the distinctive throaty rumble of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. But that much-loved racket could be rumbling away to another state if the company cannot bring down its labor costs.

Harley-Davidson has warned employees it will move its Wisconsin manufacturing operations elsewhere if it cannot cut millions of dollars at the factories that build the bikes known as "Milwaukee Iron."
Harley's corporate headquarters would remain here, but that's small consolation to a community that has already endured repeated blows to its civic identity.

"When you think of Milwaukee you think of beer, brats and Harley-Davidson," said Steve Daily, a researcher at the Milwaukee County Historical Society. "Right or wrong, that's what it is."

But that's been changing. For example, the corporate parent of beer giant Miller parent moved its U.S. headquarters to Chicago in 2008 after joining its domestic operations with Molson Coors Brewing Co. Then there was Schlitz, which billed itself as "the beer that made Milwaukee famous" until financial and labor problems forced it to sell out to a Detroit company in the 1980s.

That leaves Harley-Davidson Inc. as the city's lone signature brand. It's also a magnet for tourists, many of whom want to visit the factories where Harley engines are made.

Harley has been a local fixture for more than a century. It all started in 1903 when 23-year old William S. Harley and 22-year old Arthur Davidson began selling motorcycles built in a cramped wooden shed.

The company later built motorcycles for the U.S. military in both world wars, which helped introduce the bikes to a global audience that saw them as an American icon.

"They symbolize the classic American values of independence and hard work, freedom, all those values," said Kanti Prasad, a marketing professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee business school. "Harley-Davidson is a uniquely American phenomenon."

And a Milwaukee phenomenon. Prasad said when he travels to Europe, China or Japan most people respond blankly when he says he's from Milwaukee. Then he points out it's Harley's hometown and their faces light up with recognition.


So if the Milwaukee-Harley marriage is so solid, how could the company even think of straying?

Company spokesman Bob Klein said Harley wants to remain faithful, but its production schedule needs to be more closely aligned with seasonal demand, a change that would require approval from labor unions.

Negotiations with the unions began in late July. The president of Harley's largest union did not return multiple messages seeking comment.

Prasad, the UW-Milwaukee professor, doesn't see Harley's threat to move simply as a negotiating tactic. A company with a 107-year history is more concerned with the next 100 years than with making idle threats to extract short-term advantages, he said.

Harley benefits the city's image and its bottom line. When the company turned 105 two years ago, some 100,000 fans from around the world joined the Milwaukee celebration.

But even if Harley's production goes elsewhere, there's still a tourist draw here -- the popular Harley-Davidson Museum. Whether that's enough to help Milwaukee cling to the brand that keeps it on the map is another question.

Either way, the loss of Harley production would be another painful drop of water in the erosion of the city's proud working-class history, Milwaukee historian John Gurda said.

"It's important to have that identity. You need a certain level of civic self-confidence," Gurda said. "And Harley-Davidson, that's a brand that's been imprinted on America's imagination unlike any other Milwaukee-made product."

-- Associated Press


Due to recent budget cuts and the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil,

'The Light at the End of the Tunnel' has been turned off.

Last edited by ravenr1; 08-05-2010 at 11:15 AM.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-05-2010, 11:21 AM
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-05-2010, 11:30 AM
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-05-2010, 12:34 PM
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Funny story....... Mercury (my company) pulled this with the Union last year. Threatened to move down to Oklahoma (they were serious about it). Got a large concession from the union in terms of pay and retirement benefits.

Harley leadership met with Mercury after this all occurred...... to see how they did it.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-05-2010, 01:05 PM
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Fuckin Unions


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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-05-2010, 01:05 PM
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Harley leadership met with Mercury after this all occurred...... to see how they did it.
Nice.

I hope the union concedes and keeps it here. What they don't mention, is that there are 4 plants that do different things, one in PA, another in KS and two in Wisconsin, so it's not really entirely Milwaukee based to begin with. There used to be 3 in WI - the Capitol Drive plant was closed already, and there have been huge layoffs at the out of state locations.

MillerCoors was kind of the opposite situation, they moved HQ to Chicago but the Miller brewery is still here. With H-D they'd leave the HQ here but move the plant. (MillerCoors said they moved HQ to a "neutral" city so as not to show preference over Milwaukee or Denver.)

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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-05-2010, 01:12 PM
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Sad, but still American made in the end.

"Harley Davidson - the most efficient way to convert gas into noise without generating any horsepower"

"When in doubt, use full throttle. It may not improve your situation, but it will end the suspense."
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-05-2010, 01:16 PM
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this is old news.

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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-09-2010, 12:55 PM
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"Harley Davidson - the most efficient way to convert gas into noise without generating any horsepower"
lol
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-09-2010, 08:16 PM
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If unions weren't extorting massive paychecks, the bikes would be more affordable and more people could buy them. $20k+ for a HD? No thanks, I'll rock a Goldwing and get to where I'm going.
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-10-2010, 02:56 AM
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If unions weren't extorting massive paychecks, the bikes would be more affordable and more people could buy them. $20k+ for a HD? No thanks, I'll rock a Goldwing and get to where I'm going.
Seen the price of a Goldwing lately? Starts at $22K and goes UP to $27K (2010 prices).

Ultra Glides are $20-25K (2011 prices)

I'm not crazy, my mother had me tested.
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-10-2010, 03:28 PM
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I wasn't debating the price of a new Goldwing ...
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-02-2010, 09:03 PM
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I think Harley would do better if they would update their lineup. Air-cooled engines are way out of date. A friend told me the reason they do not change their design is because they would also have to meet some emission requirements and be forced to use catalytic converters, etc. and they do not want to do that. I love the comment...


"Harley Davidson - the most efficient way to convert gas into noise without generating any horsepower"
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-13-2010, 12:26 PM
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-15-2010, 09:22 AM
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http://www.roadracingworld.com/news/...?article=41975


I bet that Harley moves out of WI before the 7 years is up.

Last edited by G2G; 09-15-2010 at 09:27 AM.
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post #16 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-15-2010, 10:43 AM
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http://www.roadracingworld.com/news/...?article=41975


I bet that Harley moves out of WI before the 7 years is up.


I bet HD starts making bikes in third world locations to be sold here before 7 years is up. They make bikes in Brazil already for local consumption. Not suggesting Brazil is a third world country by the way...

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post #17 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-15-2010, 11:03 AM
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I don't think they will go that far. I do see them moving to a differnt state and becoming non union and paying the assy. line people half of what they are paying them now which is between 33 to 38 bucks and hour.
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post #18 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-15-2010, 11:23 AM
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I bet HD starts making bikes in third world locations to be sold here before 7 years is up. They make bikes in Brazil already for local consumption. Not suggesting Brazil is a third world country by the way...
This is a Brazilian law, Brazil has super high local content rules, I think its in the 85% range.

Ian
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post #19 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-15-2010, 11:37 AM
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This is a Brazilian law, Brazil has super high local content rules, I think its in the 85% range.

I am aware of the law, just stating that it would not be a stretch to see this expand to other locations.

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