The employees took out a newspaper advertisement in The Anderson News late last month, calling it “the worst contract proposal since Prohibition.”
Four Roses has not commented on the strike.
Will you stand with Four Roses Bourbon workers?
In the midst of an historic bourbon boom, workers at Four Roses distillery and bottling facilities are standing together to ensure that all members of the Four Roses family earn equal benefits for their hard work. The hardworking men and women who craft Four Roses bourbon made the difficult decision to go on strike on September 7th.
For more than two months, company officials at Four Roses have failed to negotiate a fair contract with their union employees. The company has been pushing to implement a two-tier system that would reduce benefits for new employees, even as the company invests $55 million in expanding the distillery to keep up with global demand for Four Roses bourbon.
“We’re a family at Four Roses. We all work together because we take pride in the quality represented by that Four Roses label,” said Curt Standiford, a member of UFCW Local 23D who has worked for Four Roses for five years. “We cannot let the company treat the new hires like they are not a part of this family. I’m putting my job on the line to protect new hires because I believe in the tradition and dedication that we put into every barrel of Four Roses.”
On September 7th, Four Roses workers across three unions took the extraordinary step of voting to strike if the company would not come to an agreement that set a single standard for all employees.
“The bourbon business is booming, and our hardworking members have dedicated themselves to Four Roses’ success,” said Ronnie Hatfield, President of UFCW Local 23D which represents workers at the warehousing facility in Bullitt County. “This company is expanding and now is not the time to steal the future from hardworking Kentucky families who want to be part of the Four Roses tradition.”
“We are one union family at Four Roses and we will not be divided,” said Jeffrey Royalty, President of UFCW Local 10D which represents workers in the distillery in Lawrenceburg, Ky. “We want to make Four Roses a better company for the next generation. Employees working side by side to craft Four Roses bourbon have earned the same better future for their families.”
- Four Roses is currently nearing completion of a $55 million expansion of its distillery and warehousing.
- The UFCW has been negotiating for a fair contract with Four Roses since June.
- The current contract expired on July 31, but UFCW members continued working under a contract extension until September 7.
- Four Roses workers went on strike on September 7 after holding a strike vote.
- Workers at Four Roses are represented by UFCW Local 10D, UFCW Local 23D and NCFO 320.
COX’S CREEK, Ky. — Following a 100 percent solid vote authorizing a strike, 53 members of United Food and Commercial Workers locals 10-D and 23-D walked out Sept. 7 at two Kentucky Four Roses bourbon facilities. Spirited picket lines went up at both the Lawrenceburg distillery and the bottling plant and warehouse here. The region is a center for production of bourbon.
The company demands that union members accept a divisive two-tier system and concessions in sick leave, seniority rights and vacation, as well as reduced payments for workmen’s compensation.
“We walked off the job at the end of our shift yesterday,” Patrick Rogers, who has worked for close to 10 years in the warehouse, told the Militant. “We’re picketing round-the-clock.”
“We have been negotiating since July,” said Blake Newton, another warehouse worker. “The company gave us their ‘last, best and final offer’ on Thursday. There was nothing in it but demands for more concessions. We had to go on strike.”
“We’re not so concerned about what they’ve offered us, but what they want us to give up for the next generation,” Jeff Royalty, president of Local 10-D, told Lawrenceburg TV station WDRB. “A two-tiered system is like a cancer. In the short term, first year or two, you don’t see much change. Five, six, seven years down the road, it eats away. It eats away between the camaraderie of people that work together.”
Four Roses just completed a $55 million expansion expected to create 30 new jobs and double production capacity.
A steady stream of cars and trucks drove by honking their horns to show support, including workers on their way to the large Jim Beam distillery up the street.
“We have a lot of support,” Newton said, waving to the honking drivers. “Even some construction workers who were building onto the warehouse saw our picket and turned around and left. They said they would respect our picket line and not cross.”
Other area workers joined the picket line, bringing their own signs and cheers of support. Amy Anglin-Coulter came with other members of United Steelworkers Local 1241 who work at Barton’s distillery in nearby Bardstown.
“This is what it’s all about,” said Anglin-Coulter, “The union is about brotherhood and sisterhood, so here we are.”