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UFCW 23D Statement on Heaven Hill Contract Talks with Company as Kentucky Bourbon Strike Enters Third Week

September 29, 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 Urges $500 Million Distillery to Stop Stalling Tactics and Help End Strike with a Fair Contract that Honors Workers’ Decades of Service to Company and Community

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 b at the company’s main facility in Bardstown, called on the company to return to the negotiating table to continue efforts to reach an agreement on a five-year contract

A federal mediator urged the company to rejoin talks with UFCW Local 23D, the union for Heaven Hill Bardstown workers and the $500 million company met with workers and the union on Monday, September 27. However, despite the federal mediator calling for Heaven Hill to continue negotiations tomorrow, September 29, the company has not agreed to return to the table

UFCW Local 23D President Matt Aubrey Released the Following Statement:

“Heaven Hill distillery workers are standing up for a fair contract that protects good-paying Kentucky jobs and keeps our economy and community strong. 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 three 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.

“We have been overwhelmed by the strong support from local business owners taking Heaven Hill products off their shelves until the strike is over and are grateful to everyone standing with these Kentucky workers and their families. 

“As the union for Heaven Hill workers, UFCW Local 23D has been eager to reach an agreement on a fair contract that supports good Kentucky jobs. We were pleased that Heaven Hill responded to the federal mediator’s call to return to the negotiating table and encouraged by the progress we made in discussions on Monday. We were disappointed to hear that Heaven Hill is refusing to continue negotiations tomorrow and urge them to reconsider. 

“Our first priority is delivering a strong contract for these Kentucky workers. We are calling on Heaven Hill to work together with us now to help end this strike and make the critical investments needed to support good Kentucky jobs and keep our economy and community strong.”


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 union for these Heaven Hill workers in Bardstown and has been in negotiations with the 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 three weeks as the company continues to stall negotiations on a new contract.


UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in healthcare, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members serve our communities in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at ufcw.org

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