(NBC NEWS) Gabe Gutierrez, Annie Rose Ramos, May 24, 2018 — Tim Primeaux has worked at the Harley-Davidson plant in Kansas City, Missouri, for 17 years. He was sure he was going to retire from the company.
That all changed when Harley-Davidson told its 800 employees in January that the plant will be closing next year. Operations will be shifted to the motorcycle manufacturer’s facility in York, Pennsylvania.
“We did everything Harley-Davidson asked us to do,” said Primeaux, a welder. “To have it all blow up in your face is kind of disappointing.”
Days later, Harley-Davidson announced a dividend increase and a stock buyback plan to reward shareholders, repurchasing 15 million of its shares, valued at nearly $700 million.
Like other corporations, Harley-Davidson is benefiting this year from the tax cut law passed in 2017, which slashed the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. The company maintains that the dividend increase and stock buyback is unrelated to the tax savings.
House Speaker Paul Ryan visited a Harley plant in Wisconsin in September and said, “Tax reform can put American manufacturers and American companies like Harley-Davidson on a much better footing to compete in the global economy and keep jobs in America.”
Many Harley-Davidson workers wondered if the tax cut would trickle down to help employees. But a recent CNBC survey found that only 10 companies in the S&P 100 say they have specific plans to use the savings to boost worker pay.