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Four Roses union workers take strike action

More than 50 workers at the Four Roses Bourbon distillery and bottling plant in Kentucky are reportedly on strike over proposed changes to new employees’ contracts.

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

According to WDRB, 53 employees at the Lawrenceburg-based distillery and the bottling plant in Cox’s Creek have been on strike since Friday afternoon (7 September) because of disputes over new five-year contracts.

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

“The strike is over a two-tier proposal that the company won’t let up on, which is essentially changing the benefits for new hires,” David Suetholz, an attorney representing UFCW Local 10D told WDRB.

“What the company is trying to do is take away that ability to accrue sick days in case you have a serious accident or illness in your family, and they want to impose, instead, a short-term disability that pays a fraction of the benefit for new hires.”

A letter on the UFCW 227 Facebook page written by president Bob Blair and secretary treasurer Paul L Whiteley Jr, and addressed to Ryan Ashley, chief operations officer at Four Roses Distillery, aired “concern over the current negotiations”.

It read: “At a time of unprecedented growth and profitability in the Bourbon industry concessionary proposals by the company are completely unwarranted.

“We, therefore, strongly urge you to return to the bargaining table and bargain a contract that gives your workers the better wages, benefits and working conditions that they have earned due to their hard work.”

Four Roses Distillery, which is owned by Japanese beer producer Kirin Brewery Company, said in a statement: “We value our employees and recognise they are a crucial part of what makes Four Roses a special Bourbon.

“We have been negotiating in good faith with the unions and offered a competitive package for our employees. It is our hope that the unions will reconsider their decision.”

The Spirits Business has approached UFCW for comment and is awaiting a response.

The distillery recently completed a US$55 million expansion of its Lawrenceburg distillery and warehouse.

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