The National Labor Relations Board is backing a federal judge’s order that Dayton potato chip producer Mikesell’s Potato Chip Co. pay nearly $240,000 in backpay to union drivers and warehouse workers.
The March 7 ruling adopts an earlier recommended order of an administrative law judge.
The order totals $239,888.61, plus interest and backpay, to route sales drivers, over-the-road drivers and warehouse employees, named in a two-and-one-half page list — a list that identifies each worker and the amount each worker is owed.
The case goes back to 2012.
In October 2017, U.S. Administrative Law Judge David Goldman wrote that a contract with Mikesell’s warehouse employees expired Oct. 26, 2012, while another contract covering the drivers expired Nov. 17 that same year.
Just one day after the drivers’ contract expired, “Mikesell’s announced that the parties were at a bargaining impasse over both units and that effective Nov. 19, 2012, it would unilaterally implement its bargaining proposals,” Goldman noted in his ruling.
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The unions took issue with Mikesell’s declaration of an impasse. They filed an unfair labor practice charge, and in January 2014, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that “Mikesell’s unilateral implementation of its bargaining offers in the absence of impasse violated” the National Labor Relations Act.
Union lawyers asked that the company “restore, honor and continue the terms of the expired collective-bargaining agreements,” the judge wrote, adding: “Mikesell’s declined to do so.”
That led to the company’s petition to a federal Court of Appeals, which denied the company’s request in December 2015.
It appears a battle over back-pay then began, involving the company, the unions and an NLRB regional office. More than three years after the contracts expired, Goldman wrote, “the respondent (Mikesell’s) contends that it had reached a third bargaining impasse with the union in negotiations, one not previously mentioned to the board or to the Court of Appeals, although it allegedly occurred June 13, 2013.”
A message seeking comment was sent to Jennifer Asbrock, the Louisville, Ky. attorney who has represented the Dayton company before the NLRB.