• May 3, 2010
Say it ain't so! How could Harley-Davidson's main manufacturing base be anywhere but Milwaukee, Wisconsin? It would be like a Toledo without Jeep (or Tony Packo's), Detroit without General Motors. A Gotham without Batman. In other words, inconceivable!
But here we are anyway, with The Motor Company reporting that it is considering its options at both its powertrain operations in Milwaukee and at its Tomahawk, Wisconsin plant. Why? Simple: money. According to H-D, it could save millions of dollars per year by changing locations due to reduced costs associated with labor contracts and scheduling flexibilities. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, though, has pledged to do whatever necessary to keep Harley right where it's at.

Of course, it seems more likely that Harley-Davidson is using these rumors as a tactic to get the upper-hand on the upcoming union negotiations. Still, with the brand's very survival on the line, anything seems possible – up to and including the (very remote, we'd guess) threat that H-D motorcycles could be manufactured overseas. Stay tuned.

[Source: The Associated Press via The Kneeslider]


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  • 154 Comments
      tropbob53
      • 4 Years Ago
      it would be nice to put all the blame on unions or bad financial decisions by HD or the astronomical prices of the bikes, but it is more than that and all of that.
      HD has had a love affair with Americans whether they ride or not. it has been a symbol of what is great about this country and unfortunately now a symbol of what is wrong as well.

      first, have any of the union "bashers" ever worked a job where you risked your life every day? take a job working in the coal mines or work the high steel in high-rise buildings or maybe try being a firefighter or any one of the many jobs where the union is the ONLY thing watching out for your safety. I have worked in the mines,on the high steel and been a firefighter/emt and I know what it's like. so don't be so damn quick to blame the unions for all the problems in our work places.

      ok, down off the soap box...I have always ridden Harleys, not just because they are an "American Icon", but because I like them...I like the look,the sound and the feel of the power they have. that being said, it now pains me to see that they have become so expensive that you almost need to be a "corporate bigwig" to own one.
      a perfect example...my wife and I were going into a restaurant for dinner one evening and saw three sweeeeet new Harleys in the parking lot. after 10 or 15 minutes of checking them out, the three owners came out to leave. "may the biker gods save us"
      these three dudes had designer jeans on, $1200.00 snake skin boots with silver toe caps and heel covers. all three had fancy Rolex watches and "bling" out the ass.

      now don't get me wrong, I don't care what you wear to ride,but that was an example of how much Harleys have become. your everyday "Joe sixpack" just can't afford them anymore.

      in closing, maybe if HD is going to move from the Great Frozen North, they should move South where we ride all year long. I don't see them leaving the Country all together, but it could happen!!!

      thank you
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hey Hugh...sorry you don't have a Harley...but no reason to poke fun...meanwhile have fun with your "wannabe" toy made in Japan...ha ha.. oh ....and be careful ...those things don't weigh as much as they look...they break easy....(how does it feel?)
      sparcman
      • 4 Years Ago
      These "unions" are just another nail in America's coffin. I have seen first hand what worker unions do to the moral of employees. Stand for fairness, yes, but most unions enable the worker to feel that he/she is irreplacable.
      • 4 Years Ago
      ll we can say is AMF Adios Mother F---er!
      • 4 Years Ago
      The only thing Harley had going for them was Made in America. If they leave our border it will be the end of Harley. Thats a fact! Harleys are just loud pigs anyway. Slow hogs that sound like theyare fast but really not fast just loud.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ignorant people abound. The V-Rod line is far from slow. If you are comparing a cruiser to a sportbike you are a fool. Do you compare a Lambo to a CTS-v? A more apt question may be - Do you even ride?

        The lineup problem w/HD is they have no sportbikes for the limited-miles street crowd.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Harley is clearly gaming the system. . .and they should. Wisconsin's current, proven by actions, is almost anti business. Between combined reporting on taxes, price of labor and disfunctional land use and zoning practices, it is surprising that more firms have not left the state. Fundamentally, the State's entire approach to business retention and expansion is patchwork. There is limited vision when establishing long term strategies. The Secretary of Commerce has changed three (now 4) times in the last 5 years. Success in maintaining companies like Harley and Mercury is more than just a quick fix on incentives. It comes with sound, consistent policies.

      For one, I believe that Wisconsin will wise up only after there are serious losses. By then, the system may have collapsed from its own weight.
      • 4 Years Ago
      hardly gone yes !!!!! take their cheesy pirate suit wearing ,scowling ,lifestyle accessory riding idiots with them. Yes!!!!!
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Hardly"??? It's Harley. It sounds like someone might be a little jaded that they can't afford a Harley. What a troll.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @WetheSheeple

        first, it looks like steve can easily afford a harley, based on the bikes in his stable.

        second, lots and lots of people that 'bought' harleys couldn't afford them. the reason harley sales grew so fast (which is now the reason harley is losing money hand over fist) is that they did the financing for lots of folks that had no business spending $25k on motorized jewelry.

        third, harldy is actually an apt term. every bike in the motor company's lineup can hardly accelerate, hardly turn, and hardly brake.
      • 4 Years Ago
      genevaanalytics,

      you hit the nail on the head when it comes to the state of wisconsin.

      their approach to businesses has been on a case by case basis. and that should not continue. i do not believe that wisconsin is anti-business, but as you stated there is not a coherent long-term approach concerning business.

      having said that, much of harley-davidsons problems are their own lack of vision. no real long-term approach to where they should be going in their business.

      but on the basic points that you made, i agree with you.

      regards,
      vrmchris
      • 4 Years Ago
      Planes crash from unionized carriers. I suppose then it is 'management's mistakes' and not the unions (or heaven forbid, the plane broke) that caused the issue.

      Unions love to jump on tragedies like this to promote themselves. 'If only they were unionized...then this would not have happened.' Of course, the mine would have been shut down due to onerous rules an uncompetitive wages, so I guess they are right - it wouldn't have happened.

      Never let a crisis go to waste...so say the unions and the left.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Any updates regarding this?
      tropbob53
      • 4 Years Ago
      sealtheborder______ I don't want to make this a "good union/bad union" thing. I was just trying to say that not all unions are bad and ruining our economy! I understand what you mean about being on union controlled jobs and never seeing a "union safety" man, however this is not the case in the trades I spoke of. underground and high steel jobs I have worked on were manned by union workers and only union safety people. as a firefighter/emt in South Florida I can tell you for damn sure my safety rep. was a union firefighter just like me.

      now living in a "right to work" state, where I have also worked in the construction industry,the only reason for "unions" is so the company can bid certain government jobs like schools,hospitals etc. and there NO safety people be they union or company. in these situations you are correct that OSHA is the only safety.

      I hope this clears the misunderstanding. so i am now going to go get on my bike and go to the beach. ya'll have a nice day!

      by the way, my bike is a 15 speed Raleigh Mountain Bike. it's a whole safer than riding a motorcycle here with all these old blue haired "snowbirds" trying to peer over the steering wheel. ;-)
      • 4 Years Ago
      What planet are you people from? "Slave wages"?!? Are you kidding me?? Let me tell you about the fact that unions in other countries do NOT pay higher wages when you consider all of the retirement and medical benefits going to the American worker. Another fact is that in America it is nearly impossible to fire a union worker for poor performance. In Europe they actually sell dope on the premises.

      HD's biggest problems include cost control. You buy their bike, which is worth every dollar, but anything you add or repair is astronomical. The same goes for their clothing and equipment. Other companies like Kuryakyn make great parts for half the cost. Maintenance on the bikes is not only expensive, but THE DEALERSHIPS aren't getting work done in a timely fashion. You wait a month to get the bike in for a lousy oil change. And 100 bucks an hour for labor is just ridiculous.

      Another big problem is a loss of focus on their "core" in an attempt at mass appeal.
      That whole "future" think is overplayed. Let me tell you, there is a whole generation of youngsters out there (like my 13 year old son) that can't wait to sit on their own iron horse and could care less about curve hanging. Not everyone is an action junkie that's lured by banana yellow painted plastic.
      Another issue is all of the "updating" in systems. I have a 2007 Nightrain with the first year of EFI and it blows ass. When you upgrade pipes you have to worry about the O2 sensors, the bike won't bump start if your battery dies. To top it off, I had to replace a $50 sensor one month after the warranty was up. It was a bitch because they moved it where you can't reach it (since the year before had it exposed on the crank case). I had nothing but inexpensive japanese crotch rockets for 30 years and never had to do a thing to them but change the oil.

      The dealership people are often arrogant or curt because the bikes sell themselves. And they are full of factory exotics that only rich dentists can afford. They gamble on odd designs like the Rocker, bikes that are far from "Harley-ish" like the Vrod, and over done out of the boxers like the Crossbones. Yet, an average working man can hardly afford to build up a chopper of his own design.

      In the end, I love my Harley, but they have some serious work to do and they've created 99% of their own problems.
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