by Gus Breiland

Harley Davidson And IAM Union Reach Tentative Agreement
Harley-Davidson reported on February 16th that it has reached a tentative labor agreement with representatives of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Local 175 in York. The agreement is subject to membership ratification and a vote is expected to occur the week of Feb. 19. If approved, the agreement would end a strike by Harley-Davidson’s 2,800 unionized employees in York that began February 2.

Production of the Touring and Softail motorcycles had been suspended at the York plant. General manager of the York plant, Fred Gates, stated at the beginning of the strike, “While Harley-Davidson is a strong company today, we don’t want to find ourselves in ten years in the same position that the Detroit auto industry is in now.”

The proposed contract causing the strike provided for a four percent wage increase in each of the three contract years. Two percent of the increase was dependent on the union accepting the Company’s salaried health care plan, or another plan that would save the Company an equal amount of money. The Company’s union employees in York currently pay no premium for health insurance coverage and minimal out of pocket costs. The proposal would have doubled the Company’s 401(k) contribution match, and would have provided a special monthly retirement supplement for certain employees who retire during the contract period.

The proposal also would have instituted a second-tier wage and benefit plan for new employees hired after February 2, 2007. For example, under the two-tier structure, new assembly worker hires would have earned $18.25 per hour in the first year of the contract, compared to $20.78 per hour for current assembly workers in the first year of the contract.

The Company has not disclosed terms of the proposed agreement, or the timing of a possible resumption of motorcycle production in York.

Fortunately for both parties, a tentative agreement has been reached. Considering the global economy, fragile profit margins, collective bargaining bully tactics and corporate greed, the more US companies and their employees bicker, the weaker their market hold. Good luck to management and workers. Find a middle ground and work with it.

Janklow’s Record Is Clean After Probation
Motorcyclists beware, former SD Representative, Bill Janklow, can get behind the wheel again and no conviction will appear on his record. Proving yet again that our leaders are corrupt and our system is unjust, Former Rep. Bill Janklow has emerged from his manslaughter probation with a clean record more, than three years after he sped through a stop sign in South Dakota and killed Randy Scott, 55, of Hardwick, Minnesota.

His record will be cleared because Circuit Judge Rodney Steele, now retired, issued Janklow a suspended imposition of sentence in 2004, a one-time-only pass for a person found guilty of a felony. Rather than holding himself to a higher standard being a Representative of the people, Janklow thumbed his nose at expectation and continued to live his life.

South Dakota State law allows a suspended imposition of sentence only once in a person’s lifetime. A judge can grant it if the judge believes justice and the best interests of the public and defendant will be served. The political and judicial system worked well for Mr. Janklow…not as well for Randy Scott, his family and Motorcyclists.

He served 100 days in jail, paid a $5,000 fine, temporarily lost his law license and was forbidden from driving during his probation…for killing a man. Scott’s family is seeking $25 million in a wrongful death lawsuit, filed in federal court. The trial is set for March 2008; swift justice. The federal government (i.e. the taxpayers) will be responsible for any damages awarded because Janklow was on official business when the accident happened. Again, Mr. Janklow showed his true colors by not taking personal responsibility for the liability of his actions. Instead he chose to deflect his actions on to you and me. Thank you, Mr. Janklow.

Guangzhou, China Bans Bikes Due To Congestion
Guangzhou, China, formerly known as Canton, officials have decided that the swarms of motorcycles and scooters have become a plague on the streets of this huge city. So, as of Jan. 1, the city’s 260,000 or so registered motorcycles will be forced off the roads. Tens of thousands of people who use the vehicles to make deliveries or otherwise earn livings must turn in their motorcycles or take them out of the city.

Guangzhou is the center of an industrial zone that manufactures everything from cars to golf clubs. The city is China’s fifth-largest auto market, with 900,000 vehicles jamming its roads. Adding to traffic problems, motorcycle and scooter prices have plunged, causing throngs of residents to eagerly turn to two-wheeled motorized transport. Apart from the 260,000 registered motorcycles, another 100,000 unregistered ones ply the streets, as well as 100,000 or so electric bicycles. Motorcycles were involved in about half the city’s accidents last year, when crashes left 311 people dead, according to the public security office, and motorcycle riding, snatch-and-run gangs menaced pedestrians.

Guangzhou isn’t the first city in China to ban or sharply limit motorcycles, scooters and electric bikes. Shanghai and Beijing also do so to some degree. But Guangzhou is taking action after hundreds of thousands of consumers have already bought vehicles. Guangzhou authorities are offering some compensation, depending on the age of the motorcycle or scooter, often amounting to $100 to $200. Owners will also receive about $8 for the scrap value of their vehicles. Officials say they’ll give some job training to those who needed their motorcycles to earn livings, but they haven’t provided details.

Banning motorcycles and scooters over fear of gangs, and to reduce congestion is akin to banning breathing to fight lung cancer. Consider the footprint left by a scooter or motorcycle vs. an automobile. Now, overnight, expand that footprint by 360,000 units? Consider the instant strain on parking, increased weight on the road, fuel consumption, and just plain bumper to bumper traffic…a wonderful example of Government fixing a problem that does not exist.

AMA Announces Four Grand Tours For 2007
The American Motorcyclist Association has announced four AMA Grand Tours for the 2007 road-riding season.

Unlike many other organized road-riding events, a Grand Tour can be completed at the rider’s own pace. A Grand Tour rider scores points for visiting specific places, usually documenting the visit with a photo and accumulating those points toward prizes awarded at the end of the tour.

AMA Road Riding offers these Grand Tours for 2007:

“KOAst 2 KOAst with the AMA” Grand Tour. Sponsored by long-time AMA Road Riding supporter Kampgrounds of America (KOA), this AMA Grand Tour awards one point for stopping by any of the 400 motorcycle-friendly KOA locations. Two points, plus a discount, are awarded for an overnight stay.

The AMA “GPS Pick-A-Point” Grand Tour. Riders collect points for visiting specific global-positioning-system coordinates supplied by AMA Road Riding. Participants will receive several hundred sets of GPS coordinates, corresponding to points of interest in every state. One point is awarded for visiting a destination within the rider’s state, two for a point in an adjoining state, and three for a spot in any other state.

The AMA “I’ve Been Everywhere” Grand Tour. In this reprise of the most popular AMA Grand Tour ever offered, riders earn points for visiting places named in the classic 1968 Johnny Cash song. One point is awarded for visiting a destination within the rider’s state, two for a point in an adjoining state, and three for a spot in any other state.

The BikeBandit “AMA Members’ Choice Roads” Grand Tour. Participants in this AMA Grand Tour accumulate points for traveling roads presented in the “Great Riding” area of the Members Only section of AMADirectlink.com. Sponsor BikeBandit.com, the online parts source that offers discounts to AMA members, will award prizes at the end of this AMA Grand Tour. One point is awarded for riding a road within the rider’s state, two for a road in an adjoining state, and three for a road in any other state.

Riders participating in more than one 2007 AMA Grand Tour can combine the points accumulated toward a grand prize.

All four AMA Grand Tours begin April 1 and end November 30, 2007. The cost for AMA members, per AMA Grand Tour, is $15 solo or $18 two-up; the cost for riders who aren’t AMA members is $17 solo or $20 two-up. Riders who enter three of the 2007 AMA Grand Tours will receive an entry into the fourth at no additional charge.

Minnesota Traffic Deaths Drop To Lowest Level Since WWII, But Not For Motorcyclists
Preliminary 2006 Minnesota traffic death figures reflect 67 fewer deaths than in 2005, a 12 percent decrease. The 475 deaths, including five killed over the year’s final weekend, cap three consecutive years of fewer traffic fatalities since 2003. While noting the dramatic progress, Department of Public Safety officials deemed the nearly 500 deaths “preventable tragedies”, and called on all Minnesota motorists to commit to driving the state toward zero deaths.

The current 2006 death count is the lowest number of annual traffic deaths recorded in the state since 1945. The 2005 preliminary death total was 542 at this time last year; the final 2005 traffic death count was 559. The 2006 total reflects motorists (360), motorcyclists (64), pedestrians (38), bicyclists (8), ATV operators (2), snowmobilers (2), and a motor scooter operator (1). The tally will rise as more reports are received from police departments and county sheriffs.

Even though pedestrian deaths decreased slightly, the bad news is that there were 64 motorcyclists’ deaths in 2006; six more than 2005, continuing a decade-long, state and national upward trend. While motorcycles account for only 3 percent of registered vehicles in Minnesota, motorcyclists represented 13 percent of all traffic deaths in 2006.

M.M.M.

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