President Trump’s reverse Midas touch when it comes to American manufacturing jobs has struck again.
Harley-Davidson, the iconic American motorcycle company, has begun laying off workers from its Midwestern plants and will open a facility in Thailand.
In February, Trump called out Harley-Davidson as “a great example of American manufacturing” while promising to increase manufacturing jobs nationwide. The president and CEO Mike Levatich posed for a photo op with Harley bikes parked on the White House’s south lawn.
Last Tuesday, Harley announced it would reduce its workforce, laying off 180 workers between its Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Kansas City, Missouri plants. In April, 118 jobs were cut at the company’s York, Pennsylvania facility.
“Not long ago, President Trump hailed this company as a model of American manufacturing,” said Mike Bolton, a district director for the United Steelworkers union. “Shortly thereafter, management announced plans to open production facilities in Thailand. Now we get word that 180 hard-working Americans will be losing their jobs.”
It is an unfortunate development for the president’s economic message. Harley is the fourth American manufacturing company Trump has spotlighted — or claimed to have helped retain jobs — that announced job cuts after the fact. Trump previously visited the manufacturing plants of Boeing, Carrier and Ford, and claimed to have saved jobs there. Instead, all three companies announced layoffs and two said they would move jobs overseas.
In fact, Trump’s economic policies may have directly hurt Harley’s bottom line, says Fortune. Harley CEO Mike Levatich was a vocal supporter of the Trans Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade collective that would have reduced high tariffs on exported Harley bikes.
Trump killed the TPP in February.
Harley is opening its Thailand manufacturing plant to reduce the foreign tariffs on its bikes, which run as high as 100 percent. They will be made with parts shipped from the U.S.