Harley-Davidson making 'unacceptable demands'
By Patrick Leary – Milwaukee Business Journal
Leadership for two chapters of the United Steelworkers have said their priorities in ongoing negotiations with Harley-Davidson Inc. include rights for temporary workers, job security and scheduling, among other issues.
Employees of the two chapters, USW Local 2-209 and Local 460, voted overwhelmingly to reject Harley-Davidson's contract offer on Monday. The current contract, ratified in 2010 and implemented in 2012, has been extended through April 14 as negotiations continue.
Michael Bolton, the District 2 director for USW, has been leading negotiations on behalf of the roughly 1,000 union employees from the motorcycle company's Menomonee Falls and Tomahawk, Wisconsin plants.
"The USW is committed to making fair proposals that address the numerous non-economic and economic issues that these workers are facing," Bolton said. "Unfortunately, the company has continued to make unacceptable demands on these hard-working union members."
In a news release sent following the rejection vote, Bolton did not advocate for a strike, encouraging members to report to work as scheduled and saying he expects more talks in the coming days.
"We look forward to continuing to work safely and productively and to carrying on our discussions with Harley-Davidson until we reach an agreement that is fair to both sides," Bolton said. "These workers deserve what all workers deserve – a contract that ensures fair wages, secure benefits and dignity on the job. We intend to keep working until we achieve that goal."
Harley-Davidson leadership is reported to have expressed disappointment in the result of the vote and cited some of the competitive financial offers it made in negotiations. However, MBJ reports that it is thought that the dispute "had less to do with financial details than concerning contract language," according to a Harley Union employee.