From The Hill:
by Rafael Bernal
Jim Beam workers walked off the production line at two distilleries in Kentucky after their union rejected a deal from the company on Friday.
The world's largest bourbon producer said the strike would not affect availability of its products to consumers, the Associated Press reported.
"Given our inventories and contingency plans, we currently do not anticipate shortages of Jim Beam or any other products made at these facilities," said David Hunter, chief supply chain officer for Beam Suntory.
Workers said they were striking to protest long work hours, often 60 to 80-hour weeks needed to keep up with high demand for the company's products. The company has hired temporary workers to help, but union workers say seniority is not being respected when assigning tasks and shifts.
The popularity of bourbon and whiskey has led to an upsurge in production of the spirits statewide. The Kentucky Distiller's Association said 1.9 million barrels were produced in 2015, the most since 1967.
Workers at the Japanese-owned company said they wanted quick resolution to the strike, but were in it "for the long haul" if necessary.
Bourbon historian Fred Minnick told the AP the workers would not be easily replaceable if the strike dragged on.
"You can't just get Johnny off the street to come in to do this," Minnick said. "If you don't know how to roll a barrel in a rickhouse, you're going to lose a thumb."
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