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Harley-Davidson to cut 90 jobs at York County plant

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

Harley-Davidson Inc. will cut about 90 jobs at its Springettsbury Township plant to adjust for decreased production, a company spokesperson confirmed Wednesday.

The company temporarily shut down production at the plant in March because of COVID-19 and didn't reopen until May 22.

"As course of normal business, Harley-Davidson regularly adjusts its production plan and appropriately sizes its workforce," the spokesperson said.

The union representing the employees, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 175, could not be reached Thursday for comment.

Retail sales at the struggling manufacturer have sunk for 13 consecutive quarters, and the coronavirus didn't help the situation.

There was a 17.7% drop in global sales for the first quarter of 2020 compared with the first quarter of 2019 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to this year's first-quarter shareholders report.

Unemployment claims have skyrocketed across the U.S. because of the economic shutdown to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. In Pennsylvania alone, about 2.2 million people have filed for unemployment since the COVID-19 outbreak began, according to the state Office of Unemployment Compensation.

The Harley-Davidson York plant.
Wednesday, May 15, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Even before the pandemic hit, Harley-Davidson was struggling in the crosshairs of President Donald Trump's trade war with Europe.

In 2018, the president enacted a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum imported from the European Union, and the EU in turn slapped a 31% tariff on U.S. motorcycle imports, Forbes reported.

Harley-Davidson responded by moving some of its production overseas, prompting a Trump-endorsed boycott of the company.

Former CEO Matthew Levatich stepped down in February and was replaced by longtime board member Jochen Zeitz.

The Springettsbury Township plant had about 950 employees in 2018 when the company announced it would add an additional 450 positions after shuttering its facility in Kansas City.

There were about 2,000 employees a decade earlier.

More:Harley-Davidson to reopen Springettsbury Twp. plant starting Friday

More:Harley-Davidson suspending operations at Springettbury Twp. plant