York Harley-Davidson workers approve new labor deal

The new contract, which will include yearly wage increases, is a step toward mending a strained relationship between the company and employees, according to the union president.

David Weissman
Harley-Davidson's Springettsbury Township plant is one of the stops on this year's Made in America Tours. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Harley-Davidson employees at York's motorcycle assembly operations voted on Monday to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement that will include wage increases every year from 2016-2022, according to a company press release.

The new agreement — which is effective Feb. 1, 2016 through Oct. 15, 2022 — covers approximately 970 employees and succeeds a current agreement that would have expired in February 2017.

Full-time employees will receive 2.5 percent wage increases in 2017 and 2022 and 2 percent wage increases in all other years of the contract, according to Harley spokeswoman Bernadette Lauer. Those increases were not in the current contract, she said.

Union president Brian Zarilla said this agreement is a small step in mending the relationship between York employees and Harley-Davidson after the company threatened to move in 2009 before offering a contract that "did a lot to hurt employees."

"The union members were looking forward to this contract negotiation," said Zarilla, who has worked at the company for 27 years. "This is a good contract, a fair contract, for union members who have worked their butts off and haven't received pay raises the past six years."

The new contract, which Zarilla called "a huge win" for union members, includes an early-retirement incentive and more time for workers to spend with their families.

The current contract has employees regularly working 10-hour shifts with mandatory overtime and mandatory weekend work when needed, Zarilla said. The new contract reduces the work day to eight hours, except during the company's 12-week surge period early in the year. It also requires the company to give next-day notice for overtime work and prevents the company from mandating weekend work two weeks in a row, he said.

Zarilla said the contract was approved "by a good margin."

The new contract will maintain the company's flexible manufacturing model, which Lauer said allows Harley-Davidson to respond to customer needs by reallocating assets and employment opportunities in "the right place at the right time."

The contract includes no changes to employee healthcare benefits, she said.

The employees were represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Local 175, according to the release.

Representatives from the association did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com.