Machinists Slam Harley 'Betrayal'
WASHINGTON - February 1, 2007: More than 2,700 Machinists union members at Harley-Davidson in York, PA, were forced out of their workplace today after voting to reject a contract that union leaders called a betrayal to workers at the iconic company.
"Harley-Davidson has no business behaving like they're on the brink of bankruptcy," said Tom Buffenbarger, international president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). "When Harley was flat on its back in the 1980's, it was union members who refused to let it die. Harley went on to become an international success story but they've obviously forgotten how they got this far."
"They don't respect workers as much as their stock options," declared District 98 Directing Business Representative Tom Boger about company leaders who reported record revenue of more than $1.6 billion for the third quarter of last year.
Harley proposed pay increases that would go into effect in 2008 and 2009, but only if workers agreed to pay more for health care costs.
"These workers build pride into every motorcycle Harley sells and they deserve a fair contract that reflects the success they helped create," said Buffenbarger. "Instead, this company's management is risking a successful 26- year partnership for a few cents more in profits. It's incredibly stupid and shortsighted."
The contract with Harley-Davidson expires on February 2 at 12:01 am. Strike preparations are underway.