Harley-Davidson Will Close Its Kansas City Plant

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The economic outlook for Harley-Davidson right now is not looking good. Just last year, the Bar & Shield brand cut 118 jobs from its plant in York, citing the need to cut production costs, and to reduce factory capacity so that it was more inline with consumer demand.

That demand has seemingly dropped even further though, as Harley-Davidson will cut 260 jobs from its production ranks, losing roughly 800 positions in Kansas City, but adding 450 positions back to its York facility, where it is consolidating.

The news comes as part of Harley-Davidson’s recounting of its rough go at 2017. The American brand saw its sales in the United States down 8.5% (down 6.7% worldwide), with the fourth quarter of the year taking a particular beating: down 11.1% in the USA (9.6% worldwide).

The news is obviously a devastation to the workers at the Kansas City plant, who have seen their jobs at Harley-Davidson constantly under question.

“They didn’t even give us a call ahead of time,” said Joe Capra, Directing Business Agent for Local 778 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM), while talking to The Kansas City Star. “It is real devastation for these people who work here and work hard in the Kansas City area.”

Of note though is that late last year, the unions (IAM and USW) and Harley-Davidson dissolved their partnership agreements after reaching an impasse on labor issues.

Whether this factory closure is a result of the falling out with the labor unions, or a direct results of it, is unclear. Regardless, we imagine that there are a number of former Harley-Davidson employees in Missouri right now who are worried about their futures.

Meanwhile, bad news seems to follow the American motorcycle brand, as it struggles to find life beyond its core Baby Boomer base. Just last year, Harley-Davidson debuted 13 “new” models, all built off the company’s new Milwaukee-Eight engine.

Will more of the same help secure the future of this ailing and iconic motorcycle brand? Only time will tell.

Source: Chicago Tribune