Union for 25,000 Kentucky Workers Statewide Demands $500 Million Distillery Halt Its Push to Hire Non-Union Workers and Instead Return to Negotiating Table to Deliver Fair Contract that Protects Good Kentucky Jobs
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 a new move by the distillery to hire non-union workers in an attempt to push longtime employees out of jobs.
UFCW Local 23D, the union for these workers, announced a new #StepUpHH grassroots campaign has already sparked 5,593 emails demanding Heaven Hill executives restore employee healthcare and help end the strike by reaching an agreement on a fair contract that protects good Kentucky jobs.
As part of the campaign, Heaven Hill workers and supporters across Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Texas, Michigan, and nationwide have used the #StepUpHH hashtag to call on the company for action, with at least 1,703 supporters sending emails to Heaven Hill executives with the $500 million company.
As the strike nears seven weeks and Heaven Hill cut off healthcare for workers, the company is also now spending $1 million on a baseball sweepstakes. Heaven Hill workers are part of a national movement of nearly 100,000 workers braving the strike line this month to call for the fair contracts needed to protect good jobs and support their families as the economy recovers.
UFCW Local 23D President Matt Aubrey Released the Following Statement:
“It is stunning that Heaven Hill is refusing to continue negotiations and is resorting to hiring non-union workers to try to push out the hardworking Kentucky men and women who have worked at the company for generations and made it the success it is today. Heaven Hill should be working around the clock to reach an agreement on a fair contract that invests in its Kentucky workers, but instead it is trying to replace them and even spending $1 million on a flashy baseball sweepstakes to further boost corporate profits.
“The reality is that Heaven Hill negotiations are not at an impasse. UFCW 23D and Heaven Hill workers are ready and willing to meet with the company to continue talks so that we can reach a fair contract. Good faith bargaining by the company with its workers and their union can succeed. Unfortunately, Heaven Hill is refusing to bargain in good faith with its workers. For this reason, the union has filed Unfair Labor Practices charges against Heaven Hill with the National Labor Relations Board to address this conduct.
“Heaven Hill workers launched a new grassroots campaign to show the company that Kentucky families and Americans across the country are calling for action on a fair contract to protect these good Kentucky jobs. In less than a week, support has poured in from the Bardstown community and so many others with nearly 2,000 supporters sending a total of over 5,000 emails to Max Shapira and other company executives.
“Heaven Hill immediately cut the healthcare of its workers and retirees when they spoke out for a stronger contract and went on strike. The contract proposed by the company threatens good jobs in our community by cutting overtime and trying to divide workers with unclear and potentially unfair scheduling.
“As the union for Heaven Hill workers, UFCW Local 23D is calling on the company to end the delays and work together with us to finally reach an agreement on a fair contract so that we can end this strike and get these hardworking Kentucky men and women back on the job.”
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.
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.
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.