Two Harley Davidsons were used in the iconic biker film 'Easy Rider,' which starred Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper.

As Sales Slow, Unions Abandon Harley Davidson Partnership

Harley Davidson’s sales are in the skids, prompting management to make decisions that don’t sit well with its unions.

Harley Davidson sales by quarter. Chart by Rich Duprey, as published by the Motley Fool.

Iconic American motorcycle maker Harley Davidson has been seeing sluggish sales for a while now.

While sales may eventually rebound if Harley can attract younger buyers, for now, the company has announced production cuts and layoffs of hourly workers in its Milwaukee and Kansas City plants.

This is not sitting well with the company’s two main unions—the International Association of Machinists and the United Steel Workers union.

In a joint press release issued on Tuesday, the two unions stated they would no longer participate in a partnership agreement the unions have had with Harley Davidson for the last two decades.

Following discussions yesterday between International Presidents Robert Martinez Jr. and Leo W. Gerard, and union directors with Harley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) and the United Steelworkers (USW) announced on behalf of their members that they are withdrawing from a two-decade old partnership agreement with the company.

The union leaders cited a deep and strong concern with the way Harley management is dealing with seasonal production and no longer sees a sufficient partnership in the decision-making process that existed in prior years. Both unions strongly believe that seniority has to count for something when it comes to job security, instead of leaving it to management discretion alone.

Before leaving the meeting, Levatich agreed to work with the unions to resolve staffing issues raised on behalf of full-time workers, saying the company was open to ways best to run seasonal production.

Whether the unions’ end to the labor-management partnership indicates more acrimonious times ahead remains to be seen.

However, until the comoany can attract new, younger buyers, Harley Davidson’s declining sales may portend more cuts are coming and the unions cannot be pleased with that possibility.

1 comment

  • Harley has gone back to the old A M F days. Poor quality, high prices, and discontinuation of popular lower priced models. When they got rid of the Evolution motor the carburetor, and the Dyna series it was the beginning of their downturn. Every time they get something good they get rid of it. The new, more high tech stuff is not always what the riders want– At least not the REAL riders.

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