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Harley staff back pay freeze

2010-09-15 10:58
Harley-Davidson's three Wisconsin unions have approved a labour contract laden with steep concessions, reacting defensively after the motorcycle company threatened to move hundreds of jobs out of the state.

An interesting comparison to the two-week strike by auto industry workers in South Africa.

The proposed deal freezes employees' pay, slashes hundreds of production jobs and assigns large volumes of work to part-time workers but it also saves hundreds of other jobs, at least in the short term.

Some 1140 union members from a suburban Milwaukee plant voted, approving the contract by a 55-45 percent. In northern Wisconsin, 293 workers at the Tomahawk plant voted, approving it by a margin of 73-27 percent

Grudging approval

Harley-Davidson executives had said they would move production out of Wisconsin if the contract were rejected, which would have eliminated about 1350 jobs.

Mike Masik, president of the Milwaukee-based chapter of the United Steel Workers, said the close vote there revealed how grudgingly his workers approved the deal

"It shows people are really getting sick of being threatened," he said

Although the contract will run for seven years from April 2012, it doesn't guarantee the company will stay in Wisconsin that
whole time, Masik said - only that the company would stop searching for alternative sites.

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