Harley newsy in York: 3 strikes, 3 presidential visits, 300 jobs down

People leave Harley-Davidson’s Springettsbury Township, Pa.’s, plant on the day that workers learned that 300 would be cut from the work force. (See additional photos below.) Background posts: Presidential visit No. 3: Bush makes like Bono, AMF-Harley in York, by the numbers and AMP’s and AMF’s alphabet soup spilled in same small town.

Since 1942, news has flowed from the Springettsbury Township plant that has housed York Safe & Lock, Blaw-Knox, Naval Ordnance Depot, AMF and Harley-Davidson.
Three strikes (1969, 1991, 2007). Three presidential visits (1987, 1999, 2006). Now 300 to be trimmed from Harley’s ranks.
There’s more.. .

Anna Jones inspects a finished bike as it rolls off the assembly line at the Harley-Davidson plant in Springettsbury Township in 2003.
Here’s a timeline of the company since 1901, from the York Daily Record/Sunday News files:
— 1901: William S. Harley, 21, drafts a blueprint drawing of an engine designed to fit into a bicycle.
— 1903: Harley and Arthur Davidson, 20, make available to the public the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle, built in Milwaukee. Walter Davidson, Arthur Davidson’s brother, joins the company.
— 1907: William A. Davidson, Arthur Davidson’s brother, joins the company.
— 1910: The bar-and-shield logo is used for the first time. It’s trademarked one year later.
— 1920: Harley-Davidson is the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world.
The association with a hog starts when the racing team’s mascot, a pig, is carried on a victory lap after each race won by the Harley-Davidson team of racers. Sixty-three years later, Harley-Davidson begins HOG, Harley Owners Group.
— 1937: William Davidson dies at the age of 67.
— 1942: Walter Davidson dies at the age of 66.
— 1943: William Harley dies at the age of 63.
— 1950: Arthur Davidson dies at the age of 69.
— 1965: Harley-Davidson goes public for the first time, and the founders officially relinquish control.
— 1969: Workers at the Springettsbury Township plant walk out for a couple of months.
— 1971: Jeffrey L. Bleustein, who would become part owner of Harley-Davidson, is an engineer with AMF, which owned Harley-Davidson at the time.
— 1974: Workers at the Milwaukee plant walk out.
— 1981: Jeffrey L. Bleustein and a group of 12 other senior executives at Harley-Davidson buy the company from AMF.
— 1983: Harley Owners Group, known as HOG, starts. Membership grows from more than 90,000 to more than 500,000 by 2000.
— 1991: Ninety-one percent of the unionized workers at the Springettsbury Township plant vote to strike. The strike lasts two weeks. Major issues were overtime notification and hours.
— 1993: Bleustein becomes president and chief operating officer of Harley-Davidson.
— 1997: Bleustein becomes president and chief executive officer of Harley-Davidson; a year later, chairman is added to his title.
— 1999: President Clinton visits the York Harley-Davidson plant.
— 2003: The company expands its Springettsbury Township plant by 350,000 square feet, improving upon technology, work environment and efficiency.
— 2005: Jim Ziemer becomes CEO of Harley after Bleustein’s retirement.
— 2006: Harley opens its first Chinese dealership.
On Aug. 16, President Bush visits the motorcycle maker’s Softail plant in Springettsbury Township. It is the third visit to Harley by an incumbent president in 20 years.
— 2007: Ninety-eight percent of 2,722 unionized workers at the Springettsbury Township plant vote to strike after rejecting the company’s proposed contract. Workers later approve an agreement and return to work after three weeks.
—2008 : Harley says it will cut 730 jobs nationwide, including 370 union jobs — about 300 of which will be cut at the company’s Springettsbury plant — because of dropping sales. Harley stock falls from $36.79 to $36.09.
Some additional facts about Harley:
– Harley-Davidson’s Springettsbury Township plant is its largest manufacturing facility with, at least up until recently, 3,200 employees. The number stood at about 2,650 in May 2009.
– There are more than 970 independent Harley-Davidson dealers in Asia and the Pacific area, Canada, Europe, Latin America, South America and the United States.
– Harley-Davidson has seven facilities that perform manufacturing operations. They are in East Troy, Wis.; Menomonee Falls, Wis.; Tomahawk, Wis.; Wauwatosa, Wis.; Kansas City, Mo.; Manaus, Brazil; and Springettsbury Township.
George W. Bush visited Harley in York, Pa., in 2006, one of three presidents to step into the Harley plant since 1987. This week, Harley started efforts to trim 300 from its Springettsbury Township plant.
To see all Harley-Davidson-related posts from the start, click here.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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6 Responses to Harley newsy in York: 3 strikes, 3 presidential visits, 300 jobs down

  1. BRIAN TYSON says:


  2. Paul says:

    I am NOT an employee of Harley-Davidson and am very interested in the ride. WE as Americans and strong supporters of the HARLEY-DAVIDSON lifestyle need to support the plant with everything that is within our hearts!!! Out of all the things that we as AMERICANS should try to save is THIS PLANT AND THE WORKERS WHO SUPPORT IT!!! Harley Davidson has been part of our country’s strength, heritage, and upbringing. Harley-Davidson is a cornerstone in the York community!!! Folks come from all over to experience where these classic icon bikes are built. If we, as members of the York community, political members, or even just simple motorcycle riders just let this happen then we should be responsible for taking care of the good folks who have built our bikes for years!!! This is the one icon that if the AMERICAN citizen does not help this plant we might as well give it up! NO pledge of allegiance, certain folks can’t pray when they want to but other’s can!!! That’s NOT what HARLEY-DAVIDSON IS ABOUT. It’s about working hard, riding free, and HELPING another in the time of need!! I stop whenever I see another brother biker down no matter what I have to do. I have raised my family to do the same. If you ride because that’s your enjoyment, then you are me!! Let’s band together to save this!!! Right now the plant is on the side of the road and it needs a hand!!! Nothing but a thing!! We are there for the plant and its workers.

  3. Sandra says:

    Without the Harley plant the sound of a Harley wouldn’t be the same. The Harley Plant needs to stay in York County so every time we hear that Harley bike from far away, we as people from York PA can say we saved our plant when they wanted to take it away. So lets stand together and not just the workers, to keep the sweet sound of a Harley in York County PA.

  4. chris says:

    I will sell my harley if the plant leaves york. The day they close I will buy a honda if my money isn’t gonna stay local then I will buy what in reality is a much better product but I belive in helping my neighbor so I ride a harley. If they go it goes.

  5. Melissa says:

    I am a Harley employee that got layed off in March. I just want to say that I don’t own a Harley but man did I love to build them. It was the best job I ever had, I loved working there and feeling special for being one of the lucky ones to have the chance to build Harley’s. But now that is all gone, so I hope the rally helps save Harley so maybe one day I can enjoy building the American dream again, along with everyone else that got layed off with me. SAVE OUR PLANT!!

  6. ron says:

    IT is quite simple. HD is saying they will do this for economic reasons. Let’s make it basic economics. PA has one of the largest HD riders registation in the country, if not the world. Have all PA HOG chapters (and perhaps entire east coast) ban together to state to HD; Close York, say bye bye to HOG and hello to Honda, Kawasaki, Roadstar, etc., etc. Tell your local HD dealer that you will not be buying anymore of the overpriced $35 Tshirts and $300 leather jackets. That you’ll be going to the local Honda, Kaw, etc. dealership for service They’ve already lost the younger crowd to these guys. You don’t see any HD crotch rockets out there and very few Buell’s. Do you think that they want to risk losing all of the East Coast HOG members. Talk to other HOG members about this!!!!

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