Steelworkers Approve Agreement With Harley-Davidson

Agreement includes expansion of power train capacity in Milwaukee.

United Steelworker (USW) members of Local 2-209 and Harley -Davidson have reached an agreement that requires the company to invest more than $120 million to expand production of the company's power train capacity in Milwaukee, creating more than 100 new jobs and providing job security to the 1,600 union members already employed locally, according to local union president Jim Wheiland.

"Now we can look forward to expanding here, rather than worry about a rival plant that would produce the same product with newer, state of the art equipment," Wheiland said. "We have the finest, most talented and most dedicated work force in the country. Based on our record alone, we've earned this new investment but again, our membership has gone one step further by alleviating the company's concerns about future costs."

All Harley-Davidson Big Twin and XL power trains are now produced in Milwaukee. If workers had rejected the proposal, the company said that it would expand production outside of Wisconsin.

Under the agreement, Harley-Davidson can hire new employees at a lower wage rate. The lowest starting wage rate for new hires will be $18.25 an hour for power train production jobs, but the union-negotiated training program will encourage workers to move up into machine operator positions that will pay $24.42 an hour. Current employees in those positions will continue to earn $28.83 an hour.

A new cost-sharing health care package will cover new hires on Jan. 1, 2007, and cover all employees on July 1, 2008. It has the same choice network as the existing plan. Two levels of coverage require no employee contribution. The third one, called the Heritage Plan, will require a monthly contribution of $15 to $25 for a single person, and between $47 and $78 for family coverage.

"This work belongs in Milwaukee," said Jon Geenen, USW District 2 Director. "Our union's first priority was to keep the jobs right where they are. Harley is a part of the community and we want those jobs to be there now and for future generations."

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