Could a Thai Harley Factory Hurt American Jobs?

Not long ago, the attorneys who ride at the Metier Law Firm told you that Harley-Davidson would be laying off 118 employees in York, Pennsylvania. Well, on June 23rd, that layoff becomes a reality, but in Kansas City, Missouri, 118 new Harley workers will be hired. This move has union bosses flustered, but Harley isn’t done ruffling their feathers.

Will a New Harley Factory in Thailand Steal Jobs from the U.S.?

Still reeling from Harley’s manufacturing move to Missouri, the American Steelworkers and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers unions are crying foul once again. The two organizations have caught wind of Harley-Davidson’s plans to build a brand-new factory in Thailand. Both unions say this will cost Americans valuable jobs, and ruin Harleys’ reputation for “made in America” products. But America’s number one motorcycle manufacturer disagrees.

Harley’s managing director of international sales in Singapore—Marc McAllister—told the New York Times that jobs in the U.S. would not be affected by the Thailand factory. The executive explained that due to Thailand’s 60 percent tariff on large motorcycle and automobile imports, it makes more sense for the company to build motorcycles in Thailand. This practice is not new for Harley.

In India, the manufacturer builds motorcycles domestically to avoid India’s 100 percent tariff, too. However, Harley-Davidson still says the practice doesn’t affect American jobs. That’s because these foreign factories are mainly assembly plants. They put together motorcycles from assembly kits manufactured in the United States.

This method has seen Harley-Davidson sales in India increase by 30 percent, and the new factory in Thailand promises to not only increased sales in that country, but could see Harley increasing its presence in China. This could be big considering the motorcycle market in the U.S. has slowed recently. Harley also wishes to make international sales 50 percent of its business by 2027—right now, only one-third of the company’s sales are foreign.

Do you think this is a good strategy for Harley? Is there a better way for the company to expand its profits? The motorcycling attorneys at the Metier Law Firm will keep monitoring the situation, so keep checking back for updates.

Tom Metier

Tom Metier

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