Bemis

Bemis Company in Centerville as seen from O'Neal Street.

Bemis Company mistreated employees at its Centerville factory and did not intend to reach a deal with a newly ratified union, an administrative law judge ruled Monday.

The decision came in a 104-page filing on July 1 with the National Labor Relations Board by Administrative Law Judge Charles J. Muhl. It comes after a monthslong process that included a two-week hearing last August.

The decision found Bemis at its Centerville facility engaged in numerous unfair labor practices against its employees. Among other violations, Muhl found the company failed to negotiate in good faith with a union that local employees voted for by a 112-95 margin.

“The record establishes that [Bemis] was used to doing things its own way at the Centerville facility and wanted to continue doing things its own way, even after the union became the employees’ bargaining representative,” Muhl wrote in his decision.

In May 2016 employees at the factory voted to unionize, with workers citing poor treatment at the factory.

After an 18-month period, with 42 days of negotiating, only eight minor items had been agreed to between the parties, Muhl found.

While at its face Muhl said “by any objective measure” the number of meetings is substantial, given the lack of progress it fails to meet the statutory requirements.

Later in his opinion, Muhl wrote that Bemis would not include “policies involving mandatory subjects of bargaining” in the agreement, even if the language was agreed to by both sides.

Muhl wrote that the conduct by Bemis “displays an employer who wanted to convince its employees they were worse off for having chosen to be represented by the union.”

“[Bemis] attended numerous bargaining sessions and exchanged many proposals,” Muhl continued, “but I conclude it simply was going through the motions in doing so and did not intend to reach an initial contract with the union.”

Requests for comment from Amcor — which completed its purchase of Bemis Company in June — or the employees’ union, Teamsters, were not immediately answered Tuesday afternoon.

This story is developing and will be updated.

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Daily Iowegian and can be reached at kocker@dailyiowegian.com or by calling (641) 856-6336. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker

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