America’s renewed taste for Kentucky bourbon has led to improper working conditions for those tasked with making the spirit, employees at two Jim Beam plants claim.
On Saturday, 252 employees at two distilleries in Clermont and Boston, Kentucky — both within 40 miles of Louisville — ceased production and went on strike, USA Today reports. Profits have skyrocketed for whiskey companies in recent years, the workers allege, but whiskey makers have become demonstrably overworked.
Employees at the two plants are currently working 12-hour shifts for six or seven days a week, despite promises from plant managers to hire more full-time employees to reduce their burden. A spokesman for the striking workers says the plants have, indeed, brought in temporary help, but full-time employees are still asked to work up to 80 hours a week.
“The money is not what we’re unhappy about. It’s very important for people to understand that,” the spokesman tells USA Today. “… But something that always comes back around is their slogan has always been come in as friends, leave as family. That’s the way we want to be treated: like family.”
Representatives from Jim Beam say they will carry out “contingency plans” to keep operations running at the two plants until the strike ends. The company did not offer specifics about the plans, though the representatives did note that it doesn’t expect any shortages of Jim Beam whiskey.