Workers at Four Roses have gone from the bottling line to the picket line. On Friday (9.07), employees of the Kentucky based bourbon producer officially started to strike.
53 workers under the umbrellas of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 10D 23D as well as National Conference of Firemen and Oilers (NCFO) 320 voted unanimously to authorize the work stoppages at Four Rose’s Lawrenceburg, KY distillery and Cox Creek, KY bottling plant last week.
“The hard-working women and men of UFCW 10D and 23D have made their [Four Roses’] company successful at a time of growth in the bourbon industry. Four Roses [now] wants workers to take cuts to many things in their contract,” UCFW Local 23D in a statement.
Jeff Royalty, president of UFCW Local 10D, told WKYT that a proposed two-tier system employee system for new hires was one issue. “It creates animosity and it’s like a cancer. It will eat away at the union. It will dissolve the family atmosphere,” Royalty explained to local news. “These people behind me, they’re not just co-workers, they’re family.”
The unions are also pushing for better sick leave, seniority, accrual of vacation time, and of course, pay. A two dollar raise spread over five years was rejected by the workers last week.
Four Roses is actually owned by Japan’s Kirin Brewing Company which in turn is part of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, a mega-conglomerate. Last September, the 130-year-old distillery finished up work on a $55 million expansion, a fact not lost on the striking workers who have been quick to emphasize the current “time of unprecedented growth and profits at Kentucky distilleries.”
Four Roses declined to comment.