BARDSTOWN, Ky. (WDRB) -- Nearly 400 angry union workers blocked the entrance to Heaven Hill Distilleries in Bardstown on Monday after rejecting the latest contract offer from the company.
"Ninety-six percent of us voted this down," Bettye Jo Boone said. "It is such an awful contract. There are so many gray areas."
Last week, nearly 400 members of Local 23D voted against the contract offer from Heaven Hill Distilleries. The current contract expired at 11:59 p.m. Friday, and union members hit the picket lines early Saturday morning and have remained there ever since.
Union leaders said the two main issues are wages and potential shift changes.
"It's a family-owned company, and I just want them to feel family-oriented toward our family," Frankie Carrico said. "Because we don't want to work every weekend. They don't probably work every weekend. So we want to spend time with our families."
Boone said during the early days of the pandemic "we were deemed essential workers. We had to work and go in there. And I am in maintenance. We had to build guards and shields all over everything, and we worked seven days a week, around the clock and pumping it out like Niagara Falls in there and made him multi-millions.
"They promised us that they would make it good when contract came. Look what we got."
The president of the Local 23D, Matt Aubrey, released a statement Friday on behalf of the union:
“Heaven Hill distillery workers have been on the frontlines of this pandemic since it began and helped produce the hand sanitizer that kept Kentucky doctors, nurses, and so many other first responders safe when COVID-19 first ripped through our communities. When so many businesses shut down, Heaven Hill essential workers stepped up, helping to support our families and keep the company and our local economy strong throughout this crisis.
“Healthcare price hikes that reduce take-home pay, cuts to overtime, and drastic scheduling changes are no way to recognize the incredible service of these Kentucky essential workers, but that is exactly what Heaven Hill is trying to do with this contract. How can a company making $500 million a year justify making healthcare more expensive for essential workers in the middle of a pandemic? What kind of message does it send when a family-owned company is pushing scheduling changes that make it harder for workers to support and care for their own families?
“Kentucky families have been working at Heaven Hill and proudly serving our communities for generations. They want to ensure that these continue to be good jobs that their kids and grandkids can count on so their families can continue this proud tradition of making the high-quality Kentucky bourbon that has powered our economy for decades. Heaven Hill has a responsibility to do right by these Kentucky essential workers and we are urging the company to step up and provide the strong contract that they have earned and deserve.”
A Heaven Hill spokesperson released a statement that said, in part: "We will continue to collaborate with union leadership toward passage of this top-of-class workforce package."
Members of Local 23D said they are prepared to strike until a suitable contract is ratified.
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