To reduce staff by about 26 percent, Harley-Davidson Inc. is offering voluntary layoffs to about 250 hourly workers in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, in order to give itself the flexibility needed to hire seasonal employees next year. The deadline is December 23, after which date involuntary layoffs will be implemented.
The layoffs were first announced in September as part of a new, seven-year contract with about 950 USW and IAM union workers. As of next April, the manufacturer will hire 150 to 250 temporary employees for seasonal production spikes. Due to changes in its contract with Wisconsin workers,Harley expects to save $50 million annually starting in 2013. When the deal with the unions was struck in 2010, Harley-Davidson’s US retail sales were down 12 percent from 2009. Harley-Davidson’s sales have recovered somewhat in 2011, but are still well below previous highs set in 2005.