Harley-Davidson is asking hourly workers in Wisconsin to take “voluntary layoffs” this week.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the motor company intends to reduce its full time work force in Milwaukee area plants by more than 25 percent. Those workers would then be replaced by less expensive “seasonal workers.”
The company has given workers until December 23 to take the voluntary layoffs. A Harley spokeswoman named Maripat Blankenheim said the company would then decide whether to begin involuntary layoffs.
The company also intends to lay off another 250 workers in Wisconsin next April and replace them with lower priced temporary workers. Harley has plants in Wauwatosa, Tomahawk and Menomonee Falls. The workers affected are represented by two unions, the United Steelworkers and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
In 2009, Harley-Davidson announced it would lay off between 3,400 and 3.600 workers through 2011. The latest layoffs are in addition to the ones announced two years ago.
The company has experienced declining sales for the last five years. The company hopes to save $50 million starting in 2013 by replacing full time workers with seasonal ones. The company also has plans to broaden the audience for its products. The company’s motorcycles have traditionally appealed to working class men.