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Striking Heaven Hill workers will be replaced, company says

Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 5:30 PM EDT
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Bardstown, KY (WAVE) - Striking Heaven Hill workers called it “attempted intimidation.” The company informed employees on Monday that talks had reached an impasse and warned that permanent replacements would be hired.

“I was kind of shell shocked, kind of taken aback,” UFCW Local 23D President Matt Aubrey said when asked to describe his initial reaction. “But more, more of just true disappointment.”

More than 400 union employees walked off the job demanding contract improvements including better pay and better scheduling policies. Now, employees at one of the world’s biggest names in spirits are on the defensive.

Heaven Hill released a statement late Monday declaring, “the parties have been unable to reach mutually agreeable contract terms. Heaven Hill will now begin the process of hiring permanent replacement workers.”

The impasse raises the stakes for workers on the picket lines outside Heaven Hill facilities, who now run the risk of losing their jobs if the company follows through.

”Certainly there has been talk about hiring replacement workers,” Heaven Hill Chief Human Resources Officer Emma Hutchens said. “But our hope is that we will get to welcome back our union members.”

Hutchens called attention to additional paid time off and enhanced match contributions to benefits as part of the company offer.

Union leaders are looking for help from the National Labor Board to protect the union jobs and get Heaven Hill back to the bargaining table.

On Tuesday, the mood on the picket line was expressed in terms of unity and defiance.

“In my heart,” Heaven Hill striking employee Judy Osborne said, “why would I walk back in there and try to work with somebody when they’ve showed us nothing?”

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