Waves of economic nausea rolled across southeastern Pennsylvania this week following news that Harley-Davidson would consider cost-cutting measures that include moving its massive manufacturing facility in York, PA to another location. More than 2,600 members of Local 175 currently build Touring and Softail models at the York facility.
Employees learned of the possible move during meetings at the plant earlier this week. Moving the facility was only one option under consideration, according to company officials, who claimed the York plant, as currently structured, was not competitive.
“It’s very important to remember the history and sacrifices that IAM members at Harley-Davidson have made over the years,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “We fought to rebuild this company in the early 80’s, when Harley-Davidson was flat on its back. We’re prepared to discuss measures to increase efficiencies in production but we’re not prepared to let Harley ride out this latest crisis on the backs of its workers.”
While any final decision about the future of the York facility could be months or even years away, the news drew sharp reactions from employees, residents and lawmakers. U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, both of Pennsylvania, released a letter sent Tuesday evening to new Harley-Davidson CEO Keith Wandell.
“It is our understanding that various options are being considered in order to improve the long-term competitiveness of Harley-Davidson, including a closure or scaleback of the operations in York,” they said. “We strongly urge you to give serious consideration to any option that will protect the thousands of jobs at stake and preserve Harley-Davidson’s presence in the region.”
It is difficult to measure the overall economic impact of closing the York facility, which is the largest employer in the county and a destination for tourists from around the world. In addition to nearly 3,000 employees who are directly employed at the plant, thousands more jobs in the region are indirectly supported.
To read the full letter, goto:http://specter.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=c2f5cd7a-7df0-4cf7-852e-3c006cd097c0
In testimony before the Aviation Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, GVP Robert Roach, Jr. this week called for major changes to the airline industry as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2009.
“The aviation industry is at a crossroads,” said Roach. “Thirty years of deregulation, reckless management and more than a hundred bankruptcies have left the industry in shambles. America deserves an airline industry that benefits employees, passengers and shareholders, not just executives. Airline workers have shouldered more than their fair share to help revitalize their employers and their industry. This FAA reauthorization bill is a chance to change course.”
Roach urged the Committee to resolve jurisdictional conflicts between the National Mediation Board and the National Labor Relations Board, and to address Flight Attendant issues such as fatigue and their lack of workplace health and safety regulations. Roach also called for enough FAA inspectors to ensure a single high standard of aircraft safety and maintenance oversight regardless of where in the world the aircraft maintenance is performed.
“As a consequence of putting dollars ahead of sense, maintenance of U.S aircraft has been exported across the globe at a faster pace than the FAA could respond,” said Roach. “Maintenance personnel who work on U.S. aircraft should meet the same eligibility requirements at home and abroad. The IAM believes there should be one level of safety and oversight for the industry regardless of where an aircraft is repaired.”
General Vice President Roach’s complete testimony is available at: http://www.goiam.org/uploadedFiles/Robert.Roach.Senate.FAA.Testimony 05.13.09.pdf?LangType=1033
The IAM joined with a coalition of labor and business leaders this week in Washington, D.C. to support legislation aimed at curbing international currency manipulation, a practice that has contributed to the loss of more than five million U.S. manufacturing jobs in the past few years.
The legislation, the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, was introduced by Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-17) and Pennsylvania Congressman Tim Murphy (PA-18) at an event on Capitol Hill that drew enthusiastic support from dozens from IAM leaders and delegates attending the 2009 IAM Legislative Conference.
IAM President Tom Buffenbarger spoke forcefully of the illegal and unfair practice of currency manipulation and the price paid by American workers. “Americans have become long on despair and short on dreams, in part due to the misalignment of currencies,” said Buffenbarger. “For far too long, our government has sought alternatives to address this problem. None of them have worked. We urgently need to adopt a more forceful strategy reflected by this legislation.”
Many countries manipulate their currencies to drive down the cost of their products. Countries like China, which do not play by any rules, have been relying on currency manipulation to illegally subsidize their goods. As their goods continue to flood our markets, millions of U.S. jobs have been destroyed.
“Correcting currency manipulation is, of course, only one part of a multi-faceted attack on the current economic crisis,” said Buffenbarger. “The IAM also believes that we must adopt trade policies that work for U.S. workers. We must renegotiate past trade agreements, and re-regulate a variety of industries including the financial industry and the airline industry. We must also eliminate government policies that give corporations incentives to offshore work, put an end to corporate greed, and adopt comprehensive health care reform.”
President Obama, House Speaker Pelosi, and other top House leaders met to establish a July 31 st deadline to pass health care reform legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. The president described the gathering as “encouraging” and an “extremely productive meeting.” Setting the July target date with the House leadership along with several high-profile public speeches at the White House on health care reform demonstrate Obama’s commitment to tackling health care reform in the United States.
After the meeting the President spoke to the press on health care, pointing out the urgent need for action. Obama cited the millions of American families who are struggling to pay premiums that have doubled over the last decade and the 46 million Americans who don’t have health insurance.
Obama laid out his basic principles for health care reform: “first, that the rising cost of health care has to be brought down; second, that Americans have to be able to choose their own doctor and their own plan; and third, all Americans have to have quality, affordable health care.”
The president also called for both the House and the Senate to pass final legislation by the end of this year. Sign up to get alerts on health care and other important issues at http://www.whitehouse.gov/EmailUpdates, or if you’d like to get more in-depth information about health reform and how you can participate, visit http://www.HealthReform.gov.?
To read President Obama’s speech, goto:http://specter.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=c2f5cd7a-7df0-4cf7-852e-3c006cd097c0
The IAM Photography Contest deadline is June 1, 2009. It is open to IAM members in good standing and photo entries should be of IAM members at work. Winning entries will win a cash prize and be featured in the 2010 IAM Calendar.
For contest rules, entry and release forms, go to: http://www.goiam.org/publications/photocontest/index.htm. Please read all instructions carefully. Contact the Communications Department at 301-967-4520 for more information.