Jim Beam work­ers re­ject new con­tract of­fer as strike looms

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OBITUARIES - By Bruce Schreiner As­so­ci­ated Press

FRANKFORT, KY>>An­other round of vot­ing has had the same re­sults in a la­bor dis­pute for the com­pany be­hind Jim Beam whiskey, as work­ers at two Ken­tucky dis­til­leries re­jected a con­tract of­fer Fri­day with a strike loom­ing.

The vote by union work­ers at Beam dis­til­leries in Cler­mont and Bos­ton came hours be­fore the ex­ist­ing con­tract was set to ex­pire for the world’s largest bour­bon pro­ducer.

United Food and Com­mer­cial Work­ers union of­fi­cial Tommy Bal­lard said Fri­day evening that work­ers re­jected the re­vised con­tract pro­posal by a wide mar­gin. He de­clined to say what changes the com­pany made to the of­fer or what terms prompted em­ploy­ees to turn it down.

The com­pany did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to the lat­est vote. The clas­sic Amer­i­can whiskey brand is owned by Sun­tory Hold­ings Ltd., a Ja­panese bev­er­age com­pany.

The cur­rent con­tract ran through Fri­day. Ear­lier in the week, union mem­bers voted over­whelm­ing in fa­vor of go­ing on strike af­ter re­ject­ing the com­pany’s of­fer.

The com­pany came back with the re­vised of­fer.

Af­ter a Tues­day evening vote, com­pany ex­ec­u­tive Kevin Smith said the whiskey maker was com­mit­ted to “re­solv­ing this mat­ter ex­pe­di­tiously.”

Union of­fi­cial Janelle Mudd had listed sev­eral is­sues caus­ing the dis­pute.

“Some key is­sues in­clude the fol­low­ing: job se­cu­rity in re­gards to the high num­ber and ex­ces­sive use of agency work­ers, fail­ure to honor and rec­og­nize se­nior­ity, vague and open-ended con­tract lan­guage, poor la­bor sched­ul­ing re­sult­ing in bur­den­some and stren­u­ous work hours that have led to an un­de­sir­able work/home bal­ance,” she said in a state­ment af­ter Tues­day’s vote.

A walk­out wasn’t ex­pected to af­fect the cur­rent flow of Jim Beam bour­bon to stores and bars be­cause bour­bon ages years be­fore bot­tling.

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