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Steelworkers Union Condems Harley-Davidson’s Plan to Manufacture Motorcycles in Thailand

nited Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard released the following statement after the New York Times published a story that Harley Davidson will be opening a production facility in Thailand. The USW represents members at Harley’s plants in Wisconsin and Missouri.

“Harley-Davidson has been the crown jewel of American manufacturing. It’s an iconic brand that represents true American spirit. Management’s decision to offshore production is a slap in the face to the American worker and to hundreds of thousands of Harley riders across the country.  

“This decision puts in jeopardy one of the few remaining genuine U.S. brands.

“Our members have been true partners with this company, working in good times and bad to make great products that fostered its growth and success. We remember the U.S. government stepping up in the 1980s to save Harley-Davidson and contributing to its revival. 

“Harley owners and prospective buyers across the globe want to continue to enjoy machines made in America that provide quality rides and unique experiences. Harley’s potential outsourcing of production puts all of this at risk.

The company confirmed Thursday that it is building a plant in Thailand’s Rayong province, southeast of Bangkok, according to CNBC. It argued that the Thailand-based operation would allow the company to be “more responsive and competitive” in the region. Building a plant in Thailand would let the American-based company avoid Thailand’s high tariffs on imported motorcycles, which sometimes tops 60 percent, according to CNBC.

“Increased access and affordability for our customers in the region is key to growth for the company in total,” Katie Whitmore, a Harley-Davidson public relations manager told CNBC Thursday. “There is no intent to reduce H-D U.S. manufacturing due to this expansion.”

This decision comes after American bike brands were dealt a blow by Trump’s decision to pull out of the 12-country Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, which would have abolished tariffs on their products across 40 per cent of the world’s economy. 

The White House has not commented on this latest announcement from Harley-Davidson and the President has not specifically tweeted about it or mentioned it during his overseas trip. During his election campaign, President Trump frequently held up Wisconsin-based Harley as an example of an American manufacturer that kept jobs and production inside US borders and was harmed by such free-trade agreements.

 

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