The workers did not get enough votes to unionize.
Hope for the future dotted the property line of Woodford Reserve on Thursday. Holding signs and huddled together, workers and union advocates cheered for the prospect of a union.
“It's been a long, hard journey for the workers down here. They've worked really hard to try to get this,” said Teamsters Local 651 president James Brant.
In February, talk of a union began circulating the distillery. Employees cited a lack of job security and benefits along with low pay.
“They deserve a living wage, health benefits, retirement, safe working conditions, job security and everything else a contract provides,” said Brant.
In May, their union chatter led to a modest pay raise from management.
“They gave them a dollar on the hour raise, and that just really insulted everyone down there,” explained Brant.
Months later, workers received an additional four dollars on the hour and an early Christmas bonus.
Even so, Brant says workers have hit the bottom of the barrel when it comes to pay, from processing to trucking driving.
“They're among the lowest in central Kentucky and distillery industry in pay,” said Brant. “They don't even rank close, even after they gave them the raise.”
Throughout Thursday, nearly 70 workers took to a vote. If a majority votes to unionize, workers could have a seat at the table and bargaining power as early as Christmas.
“Hopefully, the majority will vote because they have a golden opportunity to improve their lifestyles for themselves and their families,” said Brant.