MILWAUKEE (AP) — Harley-Davidson has turned down $25 million in state tax credits to keep manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin, but company officials say they plan to continue making motorcycles in Wisconsin.
In a statement issued Thursday, Harley officials said the company declined the tax credits because its employment plans might not work with the state’s terms.
“As previously announced, Harley-Davidson anticipates a reduction in the size of its Wisconsin production workforce upon implementation of the new labor agreements in 2012,” the company said. “While the workforce reduction estimates provided at the time of contract ratification have not changed, the anticipated employment level may not meet the technical requirements of the Wisconsin statute for job retention or growth.”
Harley Davidson employs more than 3,000 people at its plants in Milwaukee and Tomah.
Commerce Secretary Aaron Olver said that he’s not worried the company will leave the state because it recently reached agreement with its union on a labor contract.
“I think the important thing is this iconic Wisconsin company has decided to stay here, has reached an agreement with the unions, and has made a commitment to manufacturing in Wisconsin. I think that is good news,” said Commerce Secretary Aaron Olver.
Harley threatened to leave if it couldn’t reach union contracts favorable to the company.
Gov. Jim Doyle announced the tax credits days after Harley workers ratified seven-year labor contracts that included a wage freeze and job losses but kept the company from pulling its manufacturing out of Wisconsin.
The incentive package, which is worth up to $25 million in tax credits over a nine-year period, was meant to help persuade Harley to keep its manufacturing in Wisconsin.
Harley spokesman Bob Klein said the company was not negotiating for a better deal. He said the offer came unraveled as the terms were being finalized.
Cullen Werwie, a spokesman for Gov.-elect Scott Walker, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Walker plans to meet with company officials to see whether anything else can be done to ensure it keeps manufacturing in Wisconsin.
“We will reach out to them again and do what we can,” Werwie said.
Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com