Rumors are rampant concerning the future of Harley-Davidson in Shelby County. One of the most recent unverified stories circulating locally is a claim that Harley-Davidson will relocate the remnants of its York, Pennsylvania operation to Shelby County, Kentucky. If true, that means Indiana's full tilt recruitment efforts were for naught. Even though no official decision has been announced by the motorcycle company, the finger pointing has begun. There are some who claim that "Our Man Mitch", impetuously circumvented local economic development officials, thereby derailing negotiations.
However, according to a recent news article in the York, Pennsylvania newspaper, Harley-Davidson CEO Keith Wandell maintains that the company will make a decision between Dec. 1 and Dec. 31. In the meantime, the company has entered the beginning stages of union negotiations while it continues to chop jobs and lose sales. The Pennsylvania news article follows:
Harley-Davidson Sales Down, Expect York Decision in December
Harley-Davidson expects to make a decision during December about whether to stay in York County - but the narrowed timeline was dwarfed Thursday by news of massive restructuring elsewhere in the company. Among those moves: Harley plans to end production of Buell motorcycles in a matter of weeks and sell off its recent Italian purchase, MV Agusta, to concentrate solely on the Harley brand.
The Buell decision will result in Harley eliminating about 80 hourly positions and about 100 other jobs, most of which is scheduled to happen by Dec. 18. Buell motorcycle manufacturing is based in the Midwest; MV Agusta has its base of operations in Europe.
The Buell cuts were the only further job reductions announced Thursday, in a year that has seen the company cut hundreds of workers and idle factories for weeks and even months to cut back production. More than 500 jobs have been cut from Harley's local operations, in addition to having scheduled four full shutdown weeks and two partial ones.
The other big issue hanging over the heads of local workers is the possible relocation of their jobs to alternative U.S. locations. On the relocation, Harley CEO Keith Wandell said the company expects to make a decision between Dec. 1 and Dec. 31. Wandell also said negotiations have begun between the company and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. But he said those talks are just in the beginning stages.
Better, Not Good
Sales across the board reportedly fell about 21 percent during July, August and September as the economy continues to take a toll. The company said the drop has moderated from 30 percent in the second quarter of this year. Other bright spots exist, including the company managing to do better than the overall heavyweight motorcycle market in the United States. Still, profits for the company were down about 84 percent in the quarter, from $166.5 million last year to $26.5 million this year.
Michael Smeltzer, executive director of the Manufacturers' Association of South Central Pennsylvania, said the still-looming issues for the company show how much cost cutting is necessary right now. Smeltzer said he was surprised to hear about the end of Buell and the plan to sell MV Agusta. Selling more than Harleys could have been an advantage, he said.
But the cutting of motorcycle brands shows York isn't getting singled out or picked on. Bob Jensenius, executive vice president of the York County Chamber of Commerce, seconded the notion. While there were slight improvements in the earnings and sales declines, it shows that efforts to try and cut costs where possible are necessary in this economy, he said.
Harley said last week a plan put together by local managment and union representatives is a "viable" way to restructure York and to help save money, and therefore possibly stay in place. Still, contract negotiations remain, with the company also saying that if the plan is to succeed, workers need to give their support to it.
Alternative locations for Harley's York operations are Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Shelbyville, Ind. and Shelbyville, Ky. Harley said it continues to consider alternative sites as part of its "two path" study concerning York.
(By Brent Burkey 10-15-09 Copyright York Daily Record)
York Daily Record Readers Comment on the above article:
"Shelbyville, Kentucky would be Harley's best choice, no unions in Kentucky and a way better class of employees down there...Harleys out of York....."
"Sales are sales no matter where the bikes are assembled. They dont need a more efficient plant if sales are down this far, they need a smaller plant with less employees"
"Good riddance. I don't want to subsidize this or any private manufacturer."
"H-D corporate is just letting out the bad news realll sloooow so that everyone can digest it a little at a time in York. Meanwhile, they are in negotiations with Kentucky or Tennessee to move the assembly there. I mean really, how far does anyone think the Union is going to go to keep jobs in York? The only thing the Union management is good for is taking the money off of the brothers checks, and then picking up theirs at the bank. Your really think they are going to give up the gravy train? Time and time again they have shown that they will NOT, until the companies up and move away. You really think those money-grubbing bullies have learned their lesson and are gonna change?? Hahahahahahahahaa!! Suckers."
"Harley & Union, the times have caught up to you; you are BOTH outdated dinosaurs nearing extinction in this country. Good riddance. Victory will be the new American cycle. Everyone else can ride Honda, BMW, Yamaha, etc....all fine bikes way better than rumbling, shaking, oil dripping Harleys anyway."
"This is so sick -Harley driving employees frantic. We are Harley owners and I feel so sad for the employees waiting for their fate in December. Harley - playing mind games with their people. I'm ashamed to own a Harley - they don't respect their employees - So sad."
"Hey dumb ass - if you can't sell bikes, you can manufacture them on the moon and it wouldn't matter. Sales numbers don't lie... and the union is a convenient scapegoat."
"Let's run the working class out of town so we are left with nothing but retirees, hospitals, crappy chain restaurants, and golf courses. Great plan."
"I think sales being down so much all boils down to the fact that people are waking up to the fact that Harleys are overpriced American junk that is not nearly as valuable as everyone makes it out to be and also not anywhere near as reliable. Who's gonna blow $15,000 or more for this crap? My neighbor (guy in his 50's) used to have two Harley cruisers, one of those big ones that you travel on.(Like Honda Goldwing) well one of them died, so he got a BMW. The very next year, he traded in the other Harley for another BMW, he loves them that much. This from an American guy working at a wood-working factory here in York. That says it all, and this scenario is being repeated all over the country. Quality Control is a joke; look at how they screwed up Buell!!! Buell used to be a great bike, now they have the highest recall rate of any sport bike. MV Augusta???? I hope they sell it off quick before they screw that one up as well. Not only has the bell rung, but the fat lady is warming up."
Posted: Thursday, November 5, 2009
Article comment by:
Loud and Obnoxious
I read on the net last night that it is a done deal as far as Shelbyville, IN. not getting the Harley plant.
Our local economic developers are always generous in their grandiose announcements of great things on the horizon. Remember all of the talk about how the new Honda plant in Greensburg was going to create an economic utopia both in Greensburg and all of the surrounding counties including dear old Shelby? Take a drive over to Greensburg and see if it's become utopia. Not!
Loud and obnoxious, by the way, refers to the large numbers of motorcycles on the streets of our fair town with illegal mufflers and/or illegal exhaust systems who are permitted to break the law without challenge.