Jim Beam workers picketing in Bullitt County Tuesday morning - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Jim Beam workers picketing in Bullitt County Tuesday morning

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BULLITT COUNTY, Ky. (WDRB) -

The bourbon battle continues between Jim Beam and its union workers in Clermont and Boston.

It's now day three of the union strike, and workers say they're prepared to picket all day and night.

"We're out here 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” union vice president Bill Mattingly said.

More than 200 skilled union workers stopped making bourbon and started to strike at the stroke of midnight Friday. The people behind the signs say it's not about the money. They're paid competitively.

It's about the long hours they say they're forced to work and what they call a disrespect of seniority.

“A short week would be 60 hours,” Jim Beam maintenance mechanic Tom Cassity said. “Mid 70s is quite common. I personally have had many 90 hour weeks.”

Cassity has been a maintenance mechanic for 11 years.

“Basically, I keep the bottling lines operating,” he said.

Cassity would like to see more skilled union workers at Jim Beam, not just what he calls inexperienced temporary employees. He wants to protect the future of his job and the quality of the Jim Beam product.

“It seems like they want to be able to put someone who is inexperienced, may not be here tomorrow and wasn't here yesterday, in my job,” Cassity said.

Picketers say the union workers are stretched too thin.

"I think if we just had more bodies in the plant itself, a lot of the problems would be alleviated,” Jim Beam union worker Josh Burks said.

“That's not the way you treat people. You bring in and you staff things the way they should be staffed, and everybody gets that balance that there should be,” Mattingly said.

In a statement sent to WDRB on Monday, Beam Suntory talks about a conversation it had with union leaders on Sunday:

“Late yesterday, we had a constructive session with a group of union associates representing a cross section of seniority and functions.  It was not a negotiation but a meeting to help clarify points of disagreement. We expect to meet again soon with the assistance of the federal mediator.  We remain committed to doing what we can to promote a timely resolution that is in the interest of our union employees and our business.”

Contract negotiations are scheduled to continue on Tuesday. 

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