LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Nearly six weeks after 420 workers at the Heaven Hill bourbon distillery in Bardstown went on strike, the company and the union representing those workers have reached a tentative deal, a Heaven Hill spokesperson said Friday. The union also confirmed the deal.

What You Need To Know

  • Workers at Heaven Hill distillery in Bardstown went on strike Sept. 11

  • The company and the union representing the workers reached a tentative deal Friday, the company said

  • Workers previously rejected the company's offer in overwhelming numbers

  • Heaven Hill reports $500 million in annual revenue

The new five-year contract has the “full recommendation” of the negotiating committee with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 23D, according to a Heaven Hill news release. 

“The agreement continues Heaven Hill’s long-standing commitment to its team members with industry-leading health care, wage growth and increased schedule flexibility,” the company said.

UFCW Local 23D president Matt Aubrey praised union members in a statement Friday. "With the strong support of the Bardstown community, these hardworking men and women have been standing together for more than a month to protect these good Kentucky jobs that their families have counted on for generations," he said.

UFCW members will vote on the contract Saturday, Oct. 23. 

Doretta Lydian (left) and Bettye Jo Boone (right) picket in front of Heaven Hill Distillery. (Spectrum News 1/Adam K. Raymond)

Forty-three days ago, those same members voted overwhelmingly to reject a five-year contract from Heaven Hill. The Sept. 9 vote saw 96% of workers vote against the contract, which union leaders said included unfavorable scheduling changes and increases in health insurance prices. 

“Health care price hikes that reduce take-home pay, cuts to overtime, and drastic scheduling changes are no way to recognize the incredible service of these Kentucky essential workers, but that is exactly what Heaven Hill is trying to do with this contract,” Matt Aubrey, president of UFCW Local 23D, said last month.

Members also took issue with the company’s failure to reward their work during a trying 2020.

“We’ve taken care of them, especially during the pandemic,” Betty Jo Boone, a 30-year veteran of the distillery, told Spectrum News 1 two days after the strike began. “We pumped bourbon out of here like Niagara Falls.”

“We made them millions,” she said. “They said they would take care of us when contract time came. They have not.”

Earlier this week, Heaven Hill said negotiations with the union were at an “impasse,” and pledged to begin hiring permanent replacement workers.