Bemis Healthcare Packaging is taking steps to close its Perfecseal plant at 9800 Bustleton Ave. in Northeast Philadelphia, according to some of the 200 workers there. Bemis is shutting down functions and shipping Philadelphia equipment to Bemis plants in Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker, who is running for U.S. President, has given the company $2 million in grants and subsidized loans, toward a $25 million factory update to add 160 Wisconsin jobs. I'm waiting to hear more from Bemis. Gov. Walker's office did not immediately respond to emailed questions.
"This company has been in Philadelphia for over 60 years," and Bemis, based in Neenah, Wisc., has owned the Bustleton works since buying Perfecseal from the Frank O'Neil family in 1986, said Robert Doughtery, who has worked at the plant for 26 years. Dougherty says the company has agreed to pay him eight weeks of severance "if I stay til the end."
"It's a shame," says David Gaudioso, lawyer for Teamsters Local 169, one of two unions at the factory, which makes film coverings to package sterile medical equipment. He said the union has been told Dec. 31 is a target closing date, but some departments could keep running into next year. The union's contract is valid until May 2017, so if the plant reopens the company has to call current workers back under current terms.
Bemis, a publicly-traded company, has steadily boosted profits in recent years, even as it has closed a string of plants. In 2012, Bemis shut factories in Minnesota, Mexico and Brazil, consolidating work to Wisconsin. In 2014 it closed a plant in Ohio.