Teamsters Local 89 members at Brown Forman ratified a new five-year agreement on Sunday, January 31st by an overwhelming 89%. The Company had held firm for nearly two months in their attempt for a lesser contract until just days prior to expiration. They finally relented in the face of righteous determination by the Teamsters bargaining committee.
Economic highlights within the new agreement include front-loaded, annual percentage-based wage increases of 3%, 3%, 2%, 2%, and 1% over the life of the agreement, the addition of MLK Day as a holiday, the conversion of one of the two existing unpaid 911 emergency days to one paid and one unpaid (both can be still be used in full or half day increments), Life Insurance increased from $5000 to $25,000 and Accidental Death & Dismemberment increased from $10,000 to $25,000 dollars (both fully paid for by the Company), “Employee Only” health insurance contribution cost remains at 21% for the life of the agreement, and only a minor 1% increase in the last year of the agreement for all other health insurance plans which are presently at 23%.
Of particular note were improvements to Wage Scale B which will result in many workers moving to the higher paying Wage Scale A in a maximum of 36 months. Previously, the only way to move to Wage Scale A was through a 75%/25% ratio of workers on A/B, which sometimes resulted in five or more years of waiting for a Wage Scale A opening to appear. Now there are two ways to get to the top wage scale. This improvement will result in a significant economic boost to many members over the life of the agreement.
In addition to the economic highlights, other important language was added or improved in the contract including uniform postings and finalizations for weekend and holiday overtime, a “4-Hour” pay guarantee in the event employees are not provided 60-minute advance notice, prior to the start of their shift, of an operational shutdown, as well as many other changes.
One of the most important wins in this contract wasn’t necessarily an improvement, but a case of maintaining existing language. The Company fought hard to change the existing 5-8’s work schedules to a mixture of 4-10’s during the week, and 3-12’s over the weekends. This would have significantly impaired overtime and weekend premium language in the Collective Bargaining Agreement and was not desirable to the membership. The Company held out on this proposal, fighting for it up until the very end when they dropped it in order to get a contract before expiration.
“This contract is an excellent example of the power we have when we stick together until the end,” said Trustee and Business Agent Robert Colone. “Our committee refused to flinch in the face of serious opposition from the Company, and instead turned the tables on them and won a superior contract at the eleventh hour. I couldn’t be prouder of what they accomplished.”
Our thanks go out to the members of the Teamsters bargaining committee which included Chief Steward Joe Nally, and Stewards Robbie Campbell, Brian Underwood, Mike T. Brown, Mike D. Brown, Charlie Staggs, John Lewis, Aaron Crawley, Adrian Hubert, Tracy Kaelin, Jamie Harrod, and former steward Bennie Taylor.
From President Zuckerman, Secretary-Treasurer Thompson, the Officers, Agents, and Staff of Teamsters Local 89; congratulations to the members at Brown Forman on winning a great contract!