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Four Roses insists two-tier wage plans ‘not true’

Four Roses Distillery has disputed claims that union workers are on strike over its proposals for a new two-tier wage policy “that discriminates against new hires”.

The Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky (Source: Four Roses Bourbon Facebook)

According to recent reports, 53 employees at the Lawrenceburg-based distillery and the bottling plant in Cox’s Creek have been on strike since Friday 7 September because of disputes over new five-year contracts, including plans for a new two-tier wage system.

The strike is reportedly being led by union leaders from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 10D.

In a statement, Four Roses Bourbon said: “While we have tried not to conduct negotiations publicly in the media, several media reports have contained some inaccuracies that we would like to correct.”

The firm added it had been “negotiating in good faith with the unions and offered a competitive package for employees”.

The Bourbon maker claimed it “never proposed a two-tier wage plan” and “originally proposed that current employees could receive six weeks’ vacation after 25 years of service”.

Future employees would be limited to five weeks of holiday. However, the proposal was “dropped in the last negotiating session”.

The new proposals also allowed current employees to receive short-term disability benefits.

The statement read: “For many years, employees have received sick days and long-term disability benefits, but they had no short-term disability, so they had to use sick days to ‘bridge’ them until long-term disability started. Current employees receive 10 sick days per year and have been able to build up a ‘bank’ of up to 60 sick days.”

However, it was found that the bargaining committees “preferred to keep their ‘bank’ and did not want short-term disability”.

Four Roses said the claims over plans for a two-tier proposal “that discriminates against new hires is not true”.

“We agree that the new hires would not receive the same sick leave benefits as current employees, but we believe the new hires’ programme is better, not worse,” the company said in a statement.

“Now, a current employee who has insufficient sick days in the ‘bank’ has nothing to rely on until long-term disability benefits start. New hires will never find themselves in that situation. So, we gave current employees what they said they wanted, and new hires something different, but, we think, better.

“Although the unions rejected our last offer, they did not inform us why they turned it down. At our last meeting, the unions told as they were unwilling to change any of their positions, and then they went on strike. We have heard nothing that leads us to believe they have changed their position.”

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