Harley-Davidson idles 5,400 workers
By EMILY FREDRIX
Some 5,400 Harley-Davidson Inc. workers are out of work this week as the motorcycle maker cuts production because of falling sales.
The Milwaukee-based company announced in September it would shut down production at plants in Wisconsin, Kansas City, Mo., and York, Pa., this week as part of a planned cut in production.
A shorter layoff is better than a long one, said Frank Larkin, a spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents workers at Harley-Davidson plants. At least workers were able to prepare for it, he said.
"We were informed early on this was being proposed and we were able to relate to our members they would need to begin planning financially for one week without a paycheck," he said.
Employees will still receive benefits during the week, he said.
Harley-Davidson spokesman Bob Klein said the plant in York, Pa., the company's largest, has 2,800 workers idled this week.
There are about 1,750 workers idled in Wisconsin at power-train operations in Wauwatosa and Menomonee Falls and another in Tomahawk. The Kansas City, Mo., plant has 850 workers idled.
Workers in Pennsylvania weren't phased by the shutdown, said Tom Boger, the business representative for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 175 union. He said it was short and they had time to prepare.
"People seem to be OK with it," he said. "It seems to be just no problem."
Boger also said the shutdown was well-timed to go with the start of deer hunting season in Pennsylvania, meaning workers wouldn't have to take days off to hunt.
Last month, Harley-Davidson reported its third-quarter profit fell 15.3 percent amid a continued sluggish U.S. market for motorcycles. The company said it expects next year to be difficult, too, as domestic buyers become more cautious about their spending given rising oil prices and slumping home sales.
The company cut bike shipments and earnings expectations in September. Shipments were down 10.8 percent to 86,535 units in the most recent three-month period.
Harley-Davidson expects full-year shipments to be between 328,000 and 332,000 units, down from 349,196 units last year.
Shares of Harley-Davidson fell 8 cents, or 0.17 percent, to $46.45 on Monday.