business

Katie Myers | Ohio Valley ReSource

In the Ohio Valley, the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing labor shortage have encouraged workers to join what many say is a national and growing wave of labor actions.

Workers across industries, in steel, health care, nonprofits and food service, have joined in calling for increased health benefits and safety measures on the job, saying contract negotiations have yielded unsatisfying results. 

Union organizers say this is a significant moment, even for a region with a long history of industrial unionism. 

In Huntington, West Virginia, hospital workers at Cabell Huntington Hospital and steel workers at Special Metals are on strike. In Elkview, West Virginia, staff of locally beloved fast food chain Tudor’s Biscuit World are unionizing. Meanwhile, leadership of the nonprofit organization Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition recently elected to fold the organization rather than sign a union contract with its staff.

TN Photo Services

Governor Bill Lee has announced that he will chair the “Yes on 1” committee, which has a goal of putting Tennessee’s right-to-work law into the state constitution. He’ll work to convince Tennesseans to pass Amendment 1 on the 2022 ballot in November.

Legislators voted to put it on the ballot in April.

The act won’t do much to change current practices, but Jim Brown with the National Federation of Independent Business says it’ll prevent a simple removal of the law in the future. 

“It deserves the extra protection because it’s under attack from the federal level with the PRO Act that was passed twice in the House of Representatives,” Brown said, referring to the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which would give protections to workers who choose to unionize. “Gov. [Ralph] Northam in Virginia, you saw in Virginia they talked about getting rid of their right to work law from 1947.”

Rhonda J. Miller

A global packaging company that’s one of the newest additions to the rapidly growing Kentucky Transpark in Warren County was in the spotlight Thursday.

In a news conference at the site, Governor Andy Beshear said Crown Cork & Seal launched operations in June to manufacture aluminum beverage cans.

"This Crown Cork & Seal facility is pretty incredible," said Beshear. "It's 327,000 square feet that brought 141 quality jobs and it’s designed to produce 2.6 billion cans per year. Folks, that’s two lines capable of producing 2,800 cans per minute.”

Beshear said the facility was built on an aggressive timetable in the midst of a pandemic, with the start of planning in February 2020.

Kevin Willis | WKYU

Kentucky bourbon makers are celebrating after the European Union lifted tariffs on bourbon and whiskey that were imposed during former President Donald Trump’s administration.

The tariffs started in 2018 in retaliation for Trump’s taxes on EU-produced steel and aluminum, which he claimed were a threat to U.S. national security.

In a statement, Kentucky Distillers Association President Eric Gregory said the tariffs slowed down bourbon exports to the EU by half, costing the industry hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Kentucky Bourbon exports had enjoyed double-digit growth for a decade before the tariffs were imposed in 2018,” Gregory said.

Rice's Pharmacy

A recent survey by the National Community Pharmacists Association found that the national shortage of workers across most sectors is impacting pharmacies.

However, a pharmacy with more than 50 years in a small Ohio County community is only experiencing a minor impact on staffing because of many long-time employees.

Rice’s Pharmacy in Beaver Dam usually has a staff of 50 storewide and currently has 45.

CEO David Figg said about 30 to 35 employees work directly in the pharmacy, where the demand for services has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think you’re also seeing that we’re sitting in an uptick time of the year, with COVID vaccinations, and now we’re offering the COVID boosters," said Figg. 

 


SPEDA

The Somerset community is celebrating the official groundbreaking of a new distillery with strong ties to the U.S military.

Horse Soldier Bourbon was founded by retired members of the U.S Special Forces who were among the first soldiers to enter Afghanistan after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony took place on the 20th anniversary of the day those soldiers crossed into Afghanistan.

According to Horse Soldier Bourbon Chief Operating Officer Scott Neil, Somerset Mayor Alan Keck reached out to them two years ago about starting a distillery in Pulaski County.

Neil said when he and his fellow soldiers looked at a map to see where Somerset was located, they realized they already had a connection to the region.

“What made it especially interesting, it was on Lake Cumberland, and when 9/11 happened, we were on the Cumberland doing a training exercise,” Neil said. “So it kind of spoke to us as probably the right place for the rest of our lives, so we decided to pursue building in Somerset.”

heavenhilldistillery.com

A strike at one of the world’s largest bourbon producers is entering its fourth week.

The stalemate is over a proposed contract at Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown.

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 23D rejected the proposed five-year contract offered by Heaven Hill Distillery based in large part on concerns about possible expanded weekend shifts.  

The walkout involves about 420 members of the union. 

The Bardstown distillery signaled that it wanted to assign new hires to nontraditional schedules that would include weekend work, but the union is concerned about how those shifts would be covered if new employees are not available. 


LRC Public Information

A Republican state lawmaker has filed a bill that would ban businesses from requiring employees to get vaccinated or asking about employees’ vaccination status.

The proposal comes as some Kentucky businesses are doing just that—at least 11 major hospitals and health care providers in the state are requiring workers to get the vaccine as the coronavirus continues to surge.

The bill, filed by Marion Republican Rep. Lynn Bechler, would expand Kentucky’s civil rights code, forbidding employers from requiring proof of vaccination in order to work or apply for a job.

It also bans businesses from limiting or classifying employees based on their vaccination status.

Lawmakers will consider the bill when they return for the next legislative session in January.

Ryland Barton

A group of Republican lawmakers has filed a bill that would ban Kentucky businesses and schools from asking whether employees, students or customers are vaccinated against COVID-19.

The measure would also expand the state’s civil rights code, banning businesses from denying services based on someone’s “immunization status.”

Rep. Savannah Maddox, a Republican from Dry Ridge and one of the bill’s sponsors, said institutions shouldn’t be able to turn people away based on whether they have received the vaccine.

“Overall the intent here is to protect the privacy rights of citizens across the commonwealth. No aspect of this legislation is intended to in any way curtail the efforts at large to encourage people to receive a vaccine,” Maddox said.

Facebook/ConCon's

It's the first full week that businesses across Kentucky reopened with no mask, social distancing or capacity requirements.

Some changes made to meet the challenges of the pandemic turned out to be good for business. 

Along Russellville Road in Bowling Green, one visible change made during the pandemic is a white tent installed in front of a little diner named ConCon’s

Owner Connie Blair said she had to adapt quickly to the requirements of the pandemic. She didn’t have any indoor dining for nine months

“I never shut the doors, not at all. I put in the drive-up window in six hours after it started and I put a PA system outside,” said Blair. “You know, they just cracked their window and waited for me tell ‘em to pull up to the window and pick their food up.”

She said the changes that saved her business are going to stay. 


The Creme Coffee House

A coffee shop in Owensboro is among businesses across Kentucky preparing for Friday’s return to full capacity, as the state emerges from the shadow of COVID-19 with vaccines readily available and the number of cases dramatically reduced. 

One young owner took a big risk when she bought a small Daviess County business in the midst of the pandemic and guided it through the economic and emotional turmoil of the past year. 

Brooklyn Patterson became owner of The Creme Coffee House in May 2020. It was a time when many small businesses were wiped out as a result of mandated closures, limited capacity and COVID-19 ravaging families and communities. 


Virtual Location

A major geocaching event in its 18th year is set to be held in Daviess County for the first time. Owensboro is hosting the event in parks and along the riverfront beginning Friday evening.

The Midwest Open Geocaching Adventure, or MOGA, will send visitors on a high-tech treasure hunt to find small containers using a GPS device, or a GPS-enabled mobile phone. 

President and CEO of Visit Owensboro, Mark Calitri, said the event was already planned to meet COVID-19 safety guidelines using the outdoor venues of the Rudy Mine Trail, Yellow Creek Park, and the Riverwalk. 


Lost River Cave

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said the state will mirror CDC guidelines on COVID-19 announced this week, that people who are fully vaccinated do not need a mask or social distancing in most places.

Beshear said that on June 11 the state will return to 100% capacity for businesses, and no masks will be required for those who have had their shots. 

One popular tourism destination in Bowling Green is preparing to get back to normal.

Lost River Cave has had a silver lining during the pandemic. People flocked to the walking trails as outdoor spaces became a welcome , and safe, change from isolation and indoor restrictions. 

Kyeland Jackson

Republican Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles is calling on Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear to set a firm “reopening” date for the state amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The demand comes as Republican-led states like Tennessee and Florida have almost entirely dropped pandemic-related restrictions and others have set dates when they will reopen further.

It also comes as the virus lingers, vaccination rates have dropped due to lack of demand, and public health experts say the United States won’t achieve herd immunity before this winter, if at all.

But Quarles argues people and businesses should be able to make their own decisions about how to stay safe during the pandemic.

Hardin Co. Chamber of Commerce

The Hardin County Chamber of Commerce has a new President and CEO. 

Following a three-month national search, Margy Poorman has been hired to lead the business organization. 

Poorman previously served as director of economic development for the city of Canton, Ohio.  Most recently, she was the public policy and legislative coordinator for AultCare, a health insurance provider in the Buckeye State.

During an announcement on Tuesday in Elizabethtown, Poorman said she looks forward to promoting a community where Fort Knox plays a significant role.

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