Merry Christmas From Harley

December 19, 2011

All Posts, News

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.

Harley Woes

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.



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25 Responses to “Merry Christmas From Harley”

  1. Scooter Rick Says:

    I know by looking at the date that this conversation ended some time ago. Someday, one or more of you gentlemen will come back here, or so I would like to think. It has been very enjoyable sitting here and reading this thread. Thank you.

  2. Glenn S. Says:

    Maybe I’ll pick up that copy of outdoor life. I’ll need to shoot that buck with black powder, since the 2nd amendment doesn’t apply to everybody. But that’s doable too.

    I have no complaints about my local dealer, just as I have no complaints about the owners of the last casino I gambled in. Somebody had to pay for all those flashing lights, all that steel and concrete. Yeah, they moved the bikes out of the way to make room for those shirts with their logo, just in time for Christmas. But when I bought my first bike, a Sportster, the dealer bought my Rolex at fair market value so I’d have enough cash. And, six months later, knowing that the Sportster was too small for me and I wanted a full sized Harley and I wasn’t made of money like some of his customers, he sold me a 3-month-old Superglide for at least 2 grand less than he could have realistically gotten for it. No, its not the dealership of legend, from when most of you started riding. But they treated me as good as I could realistically expect in these times.

  3. 10Gauge Says:


    Sounds like a great place man.

    Strength, Respect, and Honor

  4. thump Says:

    I agree 100% with you. I grew up just outside of Cleveland in a big union family. Back in the 70s we saw this coming. I remember the protests against JAP cars where you could take out your frustrations on imports by beatin the shit out of a Honda with a sledge hammer. Then in the 80s the “greed is good” assholes got in power, decided that money was more important than American jobs and started sending jobs to cheap labor markets. By the end of the 80s Screaming Eagle parts were stamped ‘made in Taiwan’. Back in the 70s we at least had a chance. Now big corporations own our government. They own us. They write the laws. You can’t escape em.

    Got a full tank on the ’67, and a fresh rolled fatty. I’m good.

  5. RVN69 Says:

    Minuses are Dealership will take 10-15% off the top of the sale price for their profit.
    Pluses are Dealership can do financing for someone who wants to buy the bike.

    Pluses on selling yourself is all the money goes in your pocket
    Minuses are unless you plan to finance yourself, who ever tries to buy it will have to find someone to finance if they ain’t got the cash. Few banks/credit unions will loan money on that old a bike so they would have to get a personal loan.

    Of course there is always the possibility that a dealership won’t want to try to sell an older bike either.

    You always get screwed on a trade-in. Everyone is going to give you the lowest possible trade-in and then sell it for the maximum profit, Capitalism.

    Of course all this is just my opinion based on 16 years at a Harley Dealership, maybe Victory has a different business model.

  6. RVN69 Says:

    Glen S.
    I had a different experience with a British company. I took an overseas contract working for a Brit company. There first response to any problems with an employee was “We will fire you and you can find your own way back to America” any complaint about them not providing the items they were required to provide, “We’ll fire you” Pay late in coming “We’ll fire you” anything that happened their response was “We’ll fire you” and they did fire numerous employees for minor problems. A friendly Brit in the Military looked into it for us and it seems that the contract we signed bound us, but under British law the company could modify it as they saw fit. One of the modifications they made was about 1/2way thru the contract was to decrease our pay, there was a base salary, then instructors got a bonus, they cut the bonus. We were told take it or leave it. So the idea that “the Brits” still value their workers is a bit to broad to make, glad your company does but not all do.

    Pick up a copy of Outdoor Life and you will learn how to skin a buck!

    Potius Mors Quam Fordare

  7. Glenn S. Says:

    The posts here illustrate the point that if the average guy does want to live in a manner of the modern era with its convieniences, (whether or not he can “skin a buck and run a trout line”), such a life is increasingy unavailable to him. Its one thing to grow yer own, its another thing to grow yer own because you got replaced on-the-job with a nineteen year old that still lives with his parents and will work for half of what you need to get by. Its still another thing to get rejected by a prospective employer because you’re 50 and might actually need that employer provided health insurance, or because you were convicted of a felony thirty years ago.

    I’ve been fortunate. I work as an industrial maintenance technician for a company that is a subsidiary of a British company. The Brits still value their workers. My wife was fired from her job with the local hospital system because they went back and checked her original resume and found that she was off by a couple months on a previous job (she therefore LIED on her original app!) This was right after she notified her supervisor that she had to would have to take time off for further medical tests because her doctor found “issues” with the results of her recent mammogram. She was told by the HR nazi that fired her that if she filed for unemployment benefits, her record would indicate that she was “terminated for cause”, but if she did not, her record would not reflect her reason for leaving. Several of her co-workers were similarly fired, supposedly for “lying on their original resume”. All of them were middle aged, and/or had recent need of the insurance.

    We thought we might move to Florida, where its warm, there’s an ocean, and where she’s from originally. So I started sending out resumes. Got a lot of responses, and they went like this:
    Them: Wow, your skill set is just what we’re looking for!
    Me: Please pose any questions you might have before you ask me to ride 700 miles for an interview.
    Them: Can you pass a drug test?
    Me: Absolutely.
    Them: Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
    Me: How far back are you asking about?
    Them: Forever!
    Me: Well, in 1984, I was convicted of drug law violations. Then in 1990, I shot an intruder in my home and pled no contest (persuant to NC v. Alford) for aggravated assault and felon in posession of a pistol. I got out in ’95 and have had no legal trouble since. But I have stellar referances since then.
    Them: “…uh, we’ll have to get back with you.”

    So here I stay in SC. But if I lose my present job, I know what I’ll have to do. And I have no idea how to skin a buck or run a trout line.

  8. Rashomon Says:

    This raises an interesting question – I plan on buying a new used bike in February and I want to trade in my 82 FXR to help finance it.

    Should I use a dealer, sell the FXR separately then buy something from either a dealer or an independent or just trade the FXR in on a Victory?

    Does anyone have opinions either good or bad on the Victory?


  9. RVN69 Says:

    Sled Tramp,
    As that famous country philosopher Hank Williams Jr. said.
    “I got a shotgun a rifle and a 4 wheel drive and a country boy can survive,I can skin a buck, I can run a trotline a country boy can survive”

    Sorry you got fucked. We were not perfect, but when I worked there the Tech’s actually tried to fix things, they didn’t just throw parts at a problem. We had a machine shop that built things including complete bikes in custom frames and built really good motors. 4 of our Master Tech’s were very good with Pans and Shovels and the owner would have fired anybody who said we wouldn’t work on a bike Harley built. He did in fact fire the Sales Manager for constantly trying to get him to cut back on service because it wasn’t very profitable. I can’t describe how excruciatingly painful it was to have to deal with someone for hours while they constantly asked, “Will this look good on my bike?” I wanted to scream at them “It’s your bike motherfucker, what do you think will look good on it!!!” Anyway not all dealerships are bad, and not all independants are good. I miss Lower(pronounced LAWER) HD in Leesburg VA., wood floors, oil stains,wooden boxes full of chrome hardware. The parts guy once gave me a shot of schnapps one cold December day when I came in for something. They are responsible for my insatiable need for speed, they built me an 84″ shovelhead stroker that would beat nearly anything on wheels until the KZ’s came out. I to have a friend in a well known 1% club who never owned a bike newer than 1965 until he got a late model twin cam RK, he said he never knew the joy of just riding without worrying about roadside maintenance until he got that bike. KK if you read this you know who I am talking about, he used to ride an old rat pan, and keeps everything in order!

    Potius Mors Quam Foedare

  10. 10Gauge Says:


    Too bad that dealership is not in my area…Around here the dealership is the shits….My ol lady had some work done on my scooter and some service work done some years ago when I was in the hospital and subsequently all fuckered up. Typically I spin my own wrenches, but I had a bunch of gift certificates that were gifts over the years and I was laid up and she figured I needed some cheering up…Frankly it all sounded pretty good. Turns out they ran the cables way too tight and tried to argue with me about it when I pointed it out…So I had to wait and come back…Now the cables didn’t have the ninja star fastner..when I pointed that out he said it didn’t need it but he would get one if I wanted…Well hurry the fuck up! They also tried to keep my parts I switched out including a front wheel. All of the soldering work done to my harness was shit and they routed it all fucked up…So I ended up having to go through and re-do it. That dealership is closed now. But the sister “store” is also fucked.
    I was having a talk with the manager there one day who was trying to enlighten me about the perks of the great motorcycle craze that came from the refinancing of America. You know, how nice the place is and the great selection of doo rags. I told him how fucked I thought it was and how I preferred the SHOP the way it was in the 80s before the illustrious boutiqing that took place in the 90s. “Why?” He asked. “Because it is no longer a shop, there are no mechanics here. You actually have to go to another building and even there they only have service technicians.” He actually told me that all of these products are profitable and they do not like to do service work because it is NOT a profit center…but it is mandated by the factory. This motherfucker is the oppitome of a rub. He actually considers motorcycling to be a hobbie. I dont think up to this point I had ever even heard a person say the word: motorcycling. Anyhow he used to be way into golf but after his retirement he found that “customizing” his road king became more of a priority and soon he was hanging out at the dealership…so much so they offered him a job. Of course he likes the Starbuck’s version of Harley Davidson. He would not have been comfortable in the old joint. He might go home smelling like cigarettes, with grease on his dockers and stain the seats in his volvo.

    Reminds me to be careful what you wish for. I have to say if dealing with motherfuckers like him meant these people would get to keep their jobs its too bad that there are not more of them. I was talking to a very well respected, long time, member of a respected and at one time very large 1% club about all of the changes he has seen over his many years and he said he was sincerely happy that he lived long enough to see reliable Harley Davidsons and that he had gotten a new scoot with a six speed that he tried unsuccessfully to blow up before the warranty expired.

  11. Stroker Says:

    Ya wanna know where our jobs went? All ya gotta do is listen to James
    McMurtry’s ode to our country’s demise:

    “Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin
    Or the shape of their eyes or the shape I’m in
    Should I hate ’em for having our jobs today
    No I hate the men sent the jobs away
    I can see them all now, they haunt my dreams
    All lily white and squeaky clean
    They’ve never known want, they’ll never know need
    Their shit don’t stink and their kids won’t bleed
    Their kids won’t bleed in their damn little war
    And we can’t make it here anymore”

    The key words in that song are “….I hate the men
    that sent the jobs away….”

    This song wasn’t written as a Bush rant, it was written about
    our Kleptocracy. Our form of government that let’s the off-shore
    lobbyests slip money to our legislators, to let them import
    their cheap goods duty free, and to let these same legislators
    allow our corporations to take the jobs overseas, and then import
    the stuff back duty free! We are run by thieves! Big business is
    in charge here. Witness the Supreme Court Judges ruling that
    corporations should have unlimited lobbying power! How to stop it?
    Probably ain’t gonna be easy. The good ol’ boy system in our government
    is deeply entrenched. The answer is to start taxing all these friggin’
    imports….but I don’t see that happening anytime soon either.

    Least my bike’s still runnin’, and I got ammo!

  12. sled tramp Says:

    Hereabouts,people are extremely self sufficent.Farm veggies,hunt and fish for larder not sport,can tear down and fix damn near anything,multi jobs and run any equipment.And generally speaking,are as anti social as all get out.Back in the Bay Area, my neighbors would howl at the idea of living like a “redneck/Hillbillie” but frankly,I’m real comfortable knowing the level of competence of the guy down the mountain who’s got an elk hanging next to the salmon smoking off the rack he welded then I am of any neighbors back home who freak if Starbucks runs out of foam.And we do pass all that on to our families.My oldest kids wanted a Honda Civic when they were 16.My youngests wanted 4×4 trucks with rifle racks when they started.There is nothing wrong with a town that closes school for the start of deer or salmon season.When a house wife wearing camo takes her kids to school on a quad with a rifle,well,there are places left where one can live with their head up.

  13. observer Says:

    c8652: Amen! The tide is going out, for sure.
    To all, we still have this, for now anyway: MERRY CHRISTMAS!
    And Rebel, thanks and congratulations for whatever it is you’re doing (getting away with?) here. I haven’t exactly figured it out, but I can’t get enough of it. Bill Graham once said of The Grateful dead: “They aren’t the best at what they do; they are the only ones that do what they do.” This site is like that.

  14. Junior Says:

    c8562: I understand where you are coming from, but do not agree wholely. I think reality (in about 10 years) will end up being somewhere in-between yours and my viewpoints.

    I roam around the east coast (in the carolinas more specifically) and I certainly see the waning middle class and waning trades ocuupations phenomenon occuring, but I think we will “bounce-back” to a certain extent. Granted, the America that I grew up in in the 70’s & 80’s is gone, but here in the carolinas I see a lot of the former middle-classers turning to self-substinance and farming and the like. I still see a lot of “tradesmen” on a daily basis, u know, the guys who can weld, fabricate, machine and pipe-fit. Maybe your coast and my coast are “worlds-apart”!? or maybe I am just around these hard-working, bread & butter types more often than you. Whatever it is I sure as hell hope we regain some of our manufacturing industry that we lost to China & others.

    Readers of this site: pass your welding & fabrication skills on to your children, teach them about the fundamentals of the internal combustion engine, teach em how to change that flat tire instead of calling some road-side assistance program, and while you are at it, teach em how to grow food & maintain ruminant livestock, they’ll need it one day. If we dont pass our “trades” knowledge onto our children, it WILL get lost & that scares the hell out of me.

  15. C8652 Says:


    I’d like to agree but the reality I see here from South California is that the folks with the money, the time and the inclination have zero trade skills. Having said that, I would throw the lot in the category of “want”. They only want; they do not produce anything other than data. Sled, RVN and others have all spoken of the lost trades, the men (and woman) who make stuff. The stuff that we buy and use, abuse, break and fix. The major corporations feeding us with our consumables have so much market share that there simply is no room for a domestic product that will cost more because of local craftsmanship and manufacturing.

    We were close man, really close back when the big banks were all circling the drain. If they had let them sink we would’ve had a chance. Instead they propped up the system with imaginary money and stole the poor mans dream and saddled him with an eternity of debt. Have you checked with the guys working on Wall Street or any major financial house? Have you seen how they have been driven from their homes, had their life’s possessions’ taken back and then stood in line to pray for an $8.00 and hour job? Point them out if you have because I can’t see them.

    What I see is the consolidation of corporations, the elimination of middle class wages/ job security and an abandonment of equity on the most fundamental level. There will be no reset, no return to our “normal”, no sudden leveling of the playing field. We feed our children plates of hope when we know the truth. The truth is that the wheels have come off and we don’t have a clue why we let that happen. Why would anyone even want to figure out how to create something for someone else when they can continue to exist comfortably in your fine house, with your fine goods and make a living buying, selling and trading futures? What is a future? It’s a bet, nothing more.

    There is nothing more that I can say.


  16. sled tramp Says:

    HAHA, same to you….

  17. thump Says:

    Love the bikes. Hate the corporation. Trademarking HOG and making Joe’s Hog shop change their name and tryin to trademark ‘ape hangers’. They will gladly commodify the outlaw image and sell a sanitized version to the public while badmouthing the clubs.

  18. Junior Says:

    Maybe I’m being optimistic but I think that eventually, americans will begin (again) to demand quality american made goods. The only way this will happen is if we get sick of the foreign made crap first. So, bring on the “Made in Vietnam” leather, and give me (well, not me but give it to my neighbor) more “Made in China” H-D merchandise, the sooner we get back to basics, the better I say!

  19. KK Says:

    Merry Christmas to all! Sled,RVN,Rebel,etc

    A “TOUCHING” Christmas Story

    A married couple had been out shopping at the mall for most of the afternoon, suddenly, the wife realized that her husband had “disappeared”.

    The somewhat irate spouse called her mate’s cell phone and demanded: “Where the hell are you?”

    Husband: Darling you remember that Jewelry shop where you saw the Diamond Necklace and totally fell in love with it and I didn’t have money that time and said Baby it’ll be yours one day.
    Wife, with a smile blushing: Yes, I remember that my Love.

    Husband: Well, I’m in the Bar next to that shop.

  20. ruffrider Says:

    Glenn S. hit the nail on the head. My wife was fired from a major auto parts retailor basically because she made too much money and had too much vacation time. They replaced her with a young man making exactly 1/2 her wages and one week vacation vs six. Also they are fireing all the fulltime employees and replacing them with parttime so they dont have to pay benefits.She was a store mgr and made the bucks. Over 20 years down the toilet. Fuckem all.

  21. Glenn S. Says:


    But the “temporary worker” phenominum is by no means limited to Harley. Its become more-or-less the new normal in the brave new world of empowering the “job creators”.

    BMW got millions of dollars worth of tax breaks to build its factory in upstate SC. For awhile, it employed a lot of people and paid good wages. Now it hires “temporary workers” exclusively, and the temps are not eventually hired by BMW. The process to become a “temporary worker” takes months, and includes extensive testing, medical examinations, and background checks. Potential temps are disqualified for ancient felony convictions and for being fired from a previous job. If hired, they make a whole lot less than BMW employees made years ago.

    Yet another chapter of “The American Worker is Fucked”, right before the chapter titled: “The American Worker Deals Dope to Feed His Family, and is Sent To Prison Forever.”

  22. RVN69 Says:

    The factory under AMF used to ship us bikes that they knew didn’t run and tell us to fix them.

    “The new Harley’s ideal customer is somebody who rides 1000 miles a year.”

    Here is where you gotta separate the dealers from the factory.
    When I worked at a dealership we wanted people who rode, riding means more service, more parts, and maybe more clothing. I guess the factory could care less if you ride as long as you buy a bike. The 1,000 mile riders are a creation of the riders themselves. The average Harley owner I met in 16 years at a dealership thought that riding 25mi to the dealership on Sat. or Sun. to hangaround all day eating free hotdogs and drinking free coffee on an absolutely perfect riding day while bragging about “riding with my bro’s” was the real deal. One of them looked at my 4year old Road King with 79,000 miles on it and told me I had “ruined” the bike, that it wasn’t “worth anything anymore.”

    I told him it was worth something to me.

    Potius Mors Quam Foedare

  23. Rebel Says:

    Dear Sled Tramp,

    I know you have to remember the AMF bikes. Buy the brand new bike, take it apart and rebuild it.

    The new Harley’s ideal customer is somebody who rides 1000 miles a year.


  24. sled tramp Says:

    Many times I’ve seen guys go through a brand new bike and adjust and tighten a ton of mis installed parts.This is with the REGULAR workers.Between the new India plant (yeah, I know…it’s a knock down plant but we know what that means…)and “seasonal” workers,I give Harley a life expectancy of 18 months max.On the upside,at my age and given the trillion Harleys out there,I ain’t gonna be walkin’.

  25. C8652 Says:


    I remember that you pretty much called this one. Sorry for the ones who are going to get launched.

    Pretty miserable deal.


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