Harley-Davidson CEO on Trump Meeting, Corporate Tax Reform
By Matthew Rocco, FOX News
Harley-Davidson is closely watching developments in Washington, D.C., as President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress seek major reforms to corporate taxes.
Executives from the motorcycle maker traveled to the White House (February 2nd) to meet with President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and administration officials. Harley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich said the president wanted to get the company’s input on the issues, from tax reform to trade.
“It was a great meeting, mostly because of the way the president and the administration really engaged with us on issues of importance to great American manufacturers like Harley,” Levatich said Wednesday during interview on the FOX Business Network’s “Mornings with Maria.”
“They really listened. They want to hear what we have to say because, as you can imagine, there are a lot of complicated things to figure out, whether it’s tax reform or trade issues.”
Levatich said a tax cut—possibly to 20%—would allow Harley-Davidson to reinvest in its business. The Milwaukee-based company pays an effective tax rate of around 35%, matching the current federal rate.
The company also stands to benefit from the potential border adjustment to the tax code, which is being debated on Capitol Hill and would exempt U.S. corporate export revenues from tax, but at the same time prevent companies from deducting the cost of imported goods and services. Some retailers, car dealers and oil refiners – who depend heavily on imports—argue this would force them to hike prices.
On the other hand, domestic manufacturers—especially companies that export goods from the U.S.—stand to benefit from such a tax. Harley-Davidson has faced stiff competition in the U.S. from Japanese competitors that offer lower-priced models.
“Harley has been heavily invested in American manufacturing since day one, and we’re a great representation of American manufacturing,” Levatich said.
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President Trump's meeting with Harley shines light on this corporate immigration issue
By Ylan Mui, CNBC
President Donald Trump will meet [February 2nd] with executives from Harley-Davidson, a company that has long proudly manufactured its heavyweight motorcycles in factories across the United States.
But Harley-Davidson has outsourced a different type of work — information technology — that has thrust the company into the debate over high-skilled immigration.
Harley Davidson signed an agreement with Indian tech staffing giant Infosys in 2012 to take over parts of its IT department. To handle the project, Infosys opened a new facility it Milwaukee, where Harley Davidson is based. About 125 positions were eliminated at Harley Davidson in the process. And workers who applied for a job at the Infosys facility claimed they were discriminated against in favor of South Asian employees.
According to the complaint, Infosys relied heavily on workers with H1B visas, which allow U.S. companies to hire from abroad in highly skilled fields in which there are a shortage of American workers. But the suit argues that there should have been plenty of qualified workers available, such as the ones who just lost their jobs at Harley Davidson.
Attorneys for the workers are seeking class certification. Infosys declined to comment.
Infosys is "filling a disproportionately large percentage of its workforce with individuals of South Asian race ... even when there are qualified individuals available in the United States," the complaint states.
Richard Strong, director of IT at Harley Davidson, said the company strongly encouraged Infosys to hire its former employees. The changes were part of a broader reorganization of its technology department, he said, and the company added a net total of 135 workers in even more highly skilled positions.
"Everybody had the opportunity to reapply for those positions," Strong said. "It was never a cost-cutting exercise. It was more of a realignment and retooling."
The suit underscores the potentially wide reach of Trump's proposals to overhaul the nation's immigration system. Though H-1B visas have long been considered essential in Silicon Valley — Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg is one of the program's most vocal supporters — the program's ripple effects also extend to America's heartland.
It is unclear if immigration will come up during Trump's meeting with Harley-Davidson, but his administration has repeatedly criticized H-1B visas as undercutting U.S. workers, with suggestions that the H-1B program could be the focus of a future executive order. Trump railed against the practice on the campaign trail, at one point calling it a "cheap labor program."
Harley-Davidson executives did not meet with Trump alone. The meeting occurred in the Roosevelt Room [of The White House] and included union leaders — who have been staunch supporters of tightening the H-1B program.