Share This
  • Social Web
  • E-mail
E-mail It
2005: Harley-Davidson Motor Company
American Rights at Work honors Harley-Davidson Motor Company for taking the road less traveled when it bucked the offshoring trend, built a new U.S. plant, and achieved record profits, all the while partnering with its workers and unions.

While many companies pay lip service to employee relations, Harley-Davidson Motor Company, the heavyweight bike manufacturer, cultural symbol, and Fortune 500 company, has demonstrated a solid commitment to keeping jobs in the United States and valuing the talent and commitment of its employees. Harley-Davidson rebuilt its company from near bankruptcy in the 1980s by working in partnership with its employees and the unions representing them, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (Machinists) and the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union (PACE).

Harley-Davidson chose not to follow the lead of countless manufacturers who went overseas for cheap labor. In 1997, the motorcycle manufacturer decided to build a new plant in Kansas City, MO, and offer good wages and benefits. The plant's interactive manufacturing process gives workers input over every aspect of production to improve quality and efficiency. To help prevent employees from working themselves out of a job, however, the company and unions created an agreement providing workers with employment security and retraining when necessary. This partnership has enabled Harley-Davidson to expand in the United States, stay competitive, and go on to achieve record revenues and Wall Street accolades.