Harley Wants to Cut Jobs, Union Must Ratify Agreement

A new labor agreement for Harley-Davidson workers aims to replace 25% of the union jobs at the company’s two plants in the Milwaukee Wisconsin area.  According to published reports,  employees learned the details of the new agreement yesterday.

The Tomahawk plant produces items such as windshields, side-cars, and other accessories for Harley bikes. and employees roughly 275 full-time employees.  The company wants to replace a number of them with seasonal workers to make production more flexible to market conditions. Harley says it needs to cut millions in labor costs in order to keep making motorcycles in Wisconsin.

The unions at both plants will vote Monday September 13th on the multi year contract that will take effect in 2013.  If the agreement is rejected, company officials have said it will move production out of state.  Economic development officials from Florida and Tennessee have been courting the motorcycle manufacturer recently in hopes that if the union rejects the contract, they can lure the new plants to their respective states.

Viper Moves From Minnesota to Alabama

AUBURN, Ala. Aug. 10, 2010 – The Viper Motorcycle Company (OTCBB: VPWI) is announcing its plans to begin manufacturing motorcycles in Auburn, Alabama. The Company will move its operation from Minnesota to Auburn as soon as possible with full production beginning in 2011.  A brand new facility in Auburn Technology Park West will become the new headquarters and production facility for Viper Motorcycle Company. Company officials expect the creation of 100 new jobs in Auburn over the next two years.

Viper Motorcycle Company, a subsidiary of Viper Powersports, produces high performance, super cruiser motorcycles for bike enthusiasts. The motorcycles are produced with over 80% of proprietary parts designed and manufactured by Viper. “The Auburn facility and community support places us in a position to achieve our annual goal of 2000 motorcycles and 2000 aftermarket engines within 5 years,” added John Silseth, CEO of Viper Powersports.

Company officials say the timing is ideal to relocate their operation and that Auburn has all of the assets for the Company to expand and satisfy the increased demand. “The market is ready for a new original equipment manufacturer to be a leader in the super cruiser niche,” said Terry Nesbitt, President of Viper Motorcycle Company.

Andrew Broadley, Technical Director of Viper Motorcycle Company sees the proximity to Auburn University as an opportunity to integrate a wealth of knowledge and expertise from students and faculty. “The ability to develop a relationship with such a high-quality University is of particular interest on the technical side, which will allow us to expand our research and development capability towards new projects,” said Broadley.  The company sees unique opportunities for creative students to be involved in design and engineering.

State Representative Mike Hubbard and Governor Bob Riley assisted in recruiting the Company to Alabama.  Both had seen the product prior to its official launch.

Governor Bob Riley congratulated Auburn on this exciting economic development news. “This is a great win for Auburn and really for our entire state.  We’re proud to welcome Alabama’s latest economic development success to Alabama and look forward to a long and productive relationship with Viper.  I know I’m definitely looking forward to seeing those bikes that will be built in Alabama out on the road,” stated Governor Bob Riley.

State Representative Mike Hubbard welcomed the new company to Auburn.  “The company was attracted to the area because of its excellent conditions including skilled personnel, a diverse manufacturing base, Auburn University, and the local quality of life,” Hubbard said.

Auburn City officials say the announcement is good news for the local economy.  “We are proud to bring in another dynamic company that will provide Auburn citizens with good paying jobs, while diversifying our local manufacturing base,” Mayor Bill Ham said.  ”It’s exciting that such a unique product, to be sold across the country and abroad, will be manufactured in Auburn.”