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Jack Daniels and Woodford Reserve Maker Does the Hard Stuff at the Bargaining Table; Teamsters Accuse Company of Losing the Bargaining Spirit


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 Jack Daniels and Woodford Reserve Maker Does the Hard Stuff at the Bargaining Table; Teamsters Accuse Company of Losing the Bargaining Spirit

Labor union files complaint against Brown-Forman

 Bailey Loosemore

(Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A labor union representing hourly workers at Brown-Forman is accusing the spirits maker of unfair labor practices after recent rounds of bargaining failed to produce a new contract.

Workers resoundingly rejected two proposals offered before the contract ended Feb. 1, and negotiations this week ended in a stalemate, said Teamsters Local 89 president Fred Zuckerman.

Though a spokesman with Brown-Forman said negotiations will continue, Zuckerman said representatives from the company told union members Wednesday that they planned to impose a contract the union had already voted down.

Following the meeting, the union chapter filed a complaint with the Cincinnati office of the National Labor Relations Board, Zuckerman said.

"They broke the law in bargaining," Zuckerman said. "They don't have the right to do that. Our only recourse is to file a complaint against them."

The local union represents about 200 employees who work between two Brown-Forman facilities in Jefferson County, Zuckerman said. The union has represented employees at the company -- which owns Woodford Reserve and Jack Daniel's -- since the early 1970s, he added.

In regards to the latest contract, union members turned down two offers by "rather large votes," Zuckerman said, citing issues with proposed wages, benefits and pensions.

The union and Brown-Forman agreed to a 30-day extension ending March 1. But at negotiations Wednesday, Zuckerman said Brown-Forman decided to move forward with its first contract proposal, despite the union's concerns.

"That means we feel like they broke the law in negotiations," Zuckerman said of filing the complaint. "The National Labor Relations Board will investigate it and determine whether or not they broke the law."

Phil Lynch, a spokesman for Brown-Forman, said he was not aware of a complaint filed with the labor board and that negotiations will continue until the 30-day extension ends.

"We don't have anything to say about that because we're not aware of that," Lynch said of the complaint.

Reach reporter Bailey Loosemore at 502-582-4646 or bloosemore@courier-journal.com.

 

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