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|Harley-Davidson Motor Company|
In Partnership With: International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), United Steelworkers of America (USW)
Democracy at work keeps good jobs at home
In 1994, the company CEO met with the presidents of the major unions representing their workers—the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the former United Paperworkers International Union.1 The company and its union representatives agreed to collaborate and establish a High Performance Work Organization partnership. As part of the partnership, employees and management make consensus decisions that keep the company competitive and find efficient methods to produce high-quality products without compromising production levels, job security, or working conditions.
An outcome of this agreement is a commitment to partnership extending to each and every employee. For instance, Harley-Davidson created a partnership implementation committee at its headquarters, and according to Human Resource Management International Digest, the company’s factories and local unions have similar committees. At each manufacturing location, workers review and sign a joint partnership agreement. In these working groups, union stewards and business managers reach decisions by consensus, an approach that has proven more effective than the traditional top-down management system.
Empowering worker participation in decision-making is a vital part of the company’s code of conduct and manufacturing process. Harley-Davidson’s interactive manufacturing process allows workers to shape every aspect of production to improve quality and efficiency. At the same time, workers have employment security and can take advantage of retraining opportunities.
Harley-Davidson’s status as a market leader is due, in part, to its inclusive labor relations model that allows for the free flow of ideas, new techniques, and shared decision-making.
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