Harley-Davidson to cut more than 100 positions in York County

Harley-Davidson Inc. plans to lay off up to 200 employees nationwide this fall amid weak motorcycle sales, with about half of those cuts poised to strike the company’s Springettsbury Township operations in York County.

Communication Manager Bernadette Lauer said approximately 200 regular and casual union employees will be impacted across the company’s U.S. plants. Among them will be about 100 regular union positions and 15 casual union positions at the York County facility, she said.

“This number is approximate and these are positions, not necessarily employees because there are a number of positions currently open that will not be filled,” Lauer added.

Harley-Davidson has 1,010 full-time employees at York, of which 829 are regular union employees, she said.

In its second quarter earnings statement, released last month, Harley announced that retail motorcycle sales worldwide in the second quarter were down 1.9 percent, while retail motorcycle sales in the U.S. were down 5.2 percent compared to the year-ago quarter.

CEO Matt Levatich cited a weaker-than-expected American market. According to the earnings report, the overall U.S. industry was down 8.6 percent for the same period, even as the company’s U.S. market share for the quarter was 49.5 percent, an increase of 2 points over the same period in 2015.

As a result, Harley-Davidson took the “precautionary step of lowering its full-year shipment guidance.” While the company does not discuss specific production numbers for individual plants, it expects to ship 264,000 to 269,000 motorcycles to dealers worldwide in 2016, Lauer said.

As a result, “the majority of (job) impacts are scheduled for the fourth quarter,” she added.

“We continually evaluate industry and market changes to provide the best products and services to our customers,” Lauer said.”To that end, we are adjusting our production plan to align with 2016 guidance and we are making the necessary changes to right-size the company.”

News reports from Wisconsin, where the iconic chopper company is headquartered, suggested plants in that state will bear the brunt of the remaining cuts.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that some are expected to occur at Harley’s engine plant in Menomonee Falls, others in Tomahawk. WSAW-TV in Wausau, Wisc., reported that 39 employees at the Harley-Davidson factories in Tomahawk will be laid off starting in October

Today’s news marks the second time in less than a year that the company has announced job cuts.

In an apparent white collar cull announced last October, Harley-Davidson said it planned to cut jobs and scale back on motorcycle shipments in the face of weak third-quarter earnings, but a company official said there was then no plan to reduce U.S. hourly workers.

Meanwhile, workers at the York County plant last November approved a new collective bargaining agreement with the company, which took effect Feb. 1. It replaces a deal scheduled to expire in February 2017, and extends until October 2022.

The agreement includes wage increases in each year of the contract and maintains the company’s flexible manufacturing model. Terms were not disclosed.

Efforts to reach a representative of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 175 following today’s announcement were not immediately successful.

“It’s always a sad day for the community when there are layoffs,” said Loren Kroh interim president and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance, adding that his organization is hopeful the workers might be called back later.

YCEA stands ready to assist Harley-Davidson if required, he added.

Harley trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol HOG.

Roger DuPuis
Roger DuPuis covers Cumberland County, health care, transportation, distribution, energy and environment. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at rdupuis@cpbj.com.

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