Harley-Davidson Inc says it’s on the verge of adding non-unionized contract workers at facilities in Wisconsin due to new labor contracts that take effect in April, and the Milwaukee motorcycle maker revealed in a federal filing on Thursday that it expects to have 325 fewer unionized full-time employees in Wisconsin as of April.
The changes will come as a result of amendments made to the previous contract in had with unions and will open up opportunities for The Motor Company to use “flexible,” or contract employees who are not subject to the terms of a union agreement.
Harley-Davidson offered voluntary layoffs to unionized employees in an effort to trim the Milwaukee-area hourly workforce at the company by some 25 percent, but the company is not disclosing whether the program resulted in any takers.
The company says the move toward “a more flexible workforce” is part of a plan to transition “production costs to a more variable model.” Harley-Davidson’s global workforce numbers declined by about 300 workers in 2011 when compared with 2010 figures. According to Maripat Blankenheim, a company spokesperson, that decline in workers was due to a variety of factors. She added that the contract workers will be employed at plants for a variety of reasons which might include fill-ins in for absent workers or helping the company meet seasonal swings in demand due to the need for increased production.
What will the move save the company?
H-D said they expect to save $50 million annually beginning in 2013 due to contract changes with the Wisconsin workers. The workers set for “downsizing” are represented by the United Steelworkers and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers.
Workers gather outside to discuss a contract vote in York, PA