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If you have been following closely in Shelby County’s recruitment of Harley-Davidson, you most likely found last week’s headlines slammed on the brakes of our emotional ride.
But please don’t let go of the handlebars. No matter what Gov. Steve Beshear says, we don’t see anyone locally giving up on making this deal.
Yes, we understand that this negotiated deal between the company and its union was sort of the first out in Shelby County’s last inning of this game. But we also understand there are two more chances before the game is over: the union’s vote on Dec. 2 and company’s board meeting on Dec. 10.
And, as they used to yell to us in little league after we had taken a futile swing, it only takes one. If during one of those at-bats the pitch gets away in York, Pa., we may see Harley executives running for home – our home.
Beshear’s comments last week don’t appear to have been based so much on any official communiqué as they were on his reading of tea leaves. He saw the contract agreement by negotiators as a bad momentum shift for the home team.
And he took the rightful step that many of us often take and decided to under-promise in hopes he could over-deliver.
If you want to look at this as a half-full glass, history can be your driver. More than one union has voted down a contract, and in our own state, workers for Ford did that just a few weeks ago.
Further, this contract, as we now see it, is no simple, stunning solution for workers at Harley. More than half of them would lose their jobs, and those who remain would lose job status, assignments and the sort of control of their environments that are the bread and butter of union shops.
We are not playing ostrich in this game. We understand the picture is not tinted red, and there are equal amounts of clouds and sunshine on the horizon.
But we also know that in Shelby County, our elected leaders and community representatives are continuing to work on this deal, from talking to contacts to doing actual fine-line planning for the day Harley might break ground here.
Our focus goes far deeper than the political process under way with the Triple S Planning & Zoning Commission and Shelby County Fiscal Court and possibly even Kentucky’s General Assembly.
Harley-Davidson leaves few stones unturned, and you can be sure that no final decision has been made.
So if you were saddened by the headlines last week, or maybe jolted by what you see as a slap of reality, we encourage you to hang on metaphorically: This ride continues, and the game isn’t over until the last out.