After 107 Years, Will Harley Leave Milwaukee?

The big feature story from the AP today–which I won’t quote from due to their insane copyright policy–is that Harley Davidson is sending executives out to scout potential production locations in other states.  If company can’t come to some sort of agreement with its work force in Milwaukee, H-D will be shutting down production there, and transfer it to assembly plants elsewhere.

Only the Corporate HQ and the Harley-Davidson Museum would remain in Milwaukee.

In many ways, this parallels the problem that US automakers have had, and which led to GM’s bankruptcy. In the case of GM, the union benefit agreements the company made with the UAW, as far back as the 1970s, simply became too difficult to maintain, financially.  As the cost of those benefits increased, GM reached the point where they couldn’t sell a car for the the price that would cover GM’s cost to make it.  GM had net negative cash flow every month, and it burned the company to the ground

Oh, and by the way, despite the happy talk we’ve been hearing, GM, even after bankruptcy, still has a negative cash flow. ALthough, if you’re an American taxpayer, you’re covering that bill.

The MoCo is trying to avoid becoming GM.  So the question for the Milwaukee workforce is whether or not they agree that a somewhat less highly compensated job is better than no job at all.

Author: Dale Franks

Dale Franks is the former host of The Business Day, ”a daily, four-hour business and financial news program on KMNY Radio in Los Angeles. From 2002-2004, he was a contributor on military and international affairs for Currently, he a publisher and editor of the monthly political journal The New Libertarian, as well as an editor of the popular web log, Q and O. Dale served as a military police officer in the United States Air Force from 1984 to 1993, in variety of assignments both in the United States and Europe, where he also was assigned to the staff of the Headquarters of Allied Forces Central Europe. In addition to broadcasting, writing, and speaking on various topics, Dale has also been a long-time technical training instructor on a variety of computer software and technology subjects. Dale has also long been involved with information technology as an accomplished web designer, programmer, and technologist, serving as the corporate knowledge specialist for Microsoft Outlook at SAIC, the nation's largest employee-owned corporation. Additionally, he is the author of a number of software user guides used for classroom training by one of Southern California’'s premier computer training and consulting firms. His book, SLACKERNOMICS: Basic Economics for People Who Find Economics Boring, is available from Barnes & Noble.