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Heaven Hill Truck Overturned Endangers Workers on Strike, Highlighting Need for Company to Put Safety First and Reach Deal on Fair Contract

October 13, 2021 Updated: October 14, 2021

Heaven Hill station at the Grand Tasting
Heaven Hill station at the Grand Tasting. Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for NYCWFF

Union for 25,000 Kentucky Workers Statewide Condemns Safety Breach Putting Workers at Risk as $500 Million Distillery Puts Profits Ahead of Employees

BARDSTOWN, KY — Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) the union for over 25,000 Kentucky essential workers statewide as well as 420 Heaven Hill distillery workers still on strike at the company’s main facility in Bardstown, condemned the actions of a non-union delivery driver who eyewitnesses said overturned a truck with flammable cargo while driving at an unsafe speed and making a threatening gesture to striking workers calling for a fair agreement on a five-year contract. The union confirmed that thankfully, there were no injuries.

UFCW Local 23D President Matt Aubrey Released the Following Statement

“Heaven Hill distillery workers faced danger today when a non-union delivery driver hired by the company to operate a tanker truck carrying flammable cargo took their hands off the steering wheel to make a threatening gesture to a UFCW Local 23D member on strike, and the truck veered out of control and flipped over.

“Heaven Hill is putting profits over the health and safety of its workers and the Bardstown community and today’s dangerous tanker truck incident is sadly just the latest example. Heaven Hill also cut the healthcare of its workers and retirees immediately after they spoke out for a stronger contract and went on strike this past month. 

“Heaven Hill is threatening good jobs in our community by proposing a contract that makes cuts to overtime and threatens to divide its workers with unclear and potentially unfair scheduling. For nearly five weeks these hardworking Kentuckians have been speaking out to stop these cuts and protect these Kentucky distillery jobs that have supported our families for generations.”

“As the union for Heaven Hill workers, UFCW Local 23D is calling on the company to ensure the driver of the overturned tanker truck today is immediately dismissed and no longer permitted to return to the Bardstown facility. Heaven Hill must put safety first and take responsibility for this incident which could have seriously injured many who were onsite. We urge Heaven Hill to work with UFCW Local 23D to reach an agreement on a fair contract to end this strike and resume safe operations as soon as possible.”

BACKGROUND

UFCW has been the leading voice for Kentucky essential workers in distilleries, grocery stores, meatpacking plants, and so many other frontline businesses that have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

In late September 2021, a federal mediator urged the company to rejoin talks with UFCW Local 23D, the union for Heaven Hill Bardstown workers and met with workers and the union on Monday, September 27

UFCW Local 23D is the and has been in negotiations with the $500 million company for 6 months to reach an agreement for these Kentucky workers. In July 2021, the union called for a federal mediator to join the process to help to advance talks with the company. On September 9, Heaven Hill workers voted on the company’s latest proposal and 96 percent of workers rejected the contract proposal and the strike began on September 11 at midnight. Heaven Hill workers have now been on strike for nearly five weeks as the company continues to stall negotiations on a new contract.

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UFCW is the largest private sector union in Kentucky, represents over 25,000 Kentucky workers statewide, and is part of UFCW International which represents 1.3 million professionals and their families in healthcare, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries that serve communities in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at ufcw.org