Since Tasty Baking Company in Philadelphia was founded in 1914, workers have been without a union. That all changed in August when Tasty Baking Co.’s bakers, warehouse workers, food-safety technicians, auto mechanics, and vending drivers voted to become members of BCTGM Local 492 (Philadelphia).
The company closed its old non-union North Philadelphia bakery and transferred production to a newly-built “green” facility located in the Philadelphia Naval Yard. According to the company, they took the abandoned industrial site and re-used the buildings as foundation material for the new bakery, which avoided clearing a forest and reduced construction waste. Additionally, the new bakery was built with features to obtain LEED-Silver certification. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and acts as a report card for the environmental friendliness of a building.)
“When they transferred over to the new building, some of the workers didn’t like the way it was handled as far as their seniority,” notes BCTGM International Representative Jimmy Condran, who assisted Local 492 in their efforts to organize the new bakery. “They felt they needed some security.”
Newly elected 492 Officer John Lazar has been aggressively involved in organizing campaigns over the last year and his efforts finally paid off with Tastykake. Lazar notes that this victory he has inspired him to continue the local’s organizing efforts.
Condran characterized the campaign on both sides as professional, with neither management nor the union engaging in the kind of tough, no-holds-barred behavior that can accompany organizing. Neither side, he said, filed unfair labor practices against the other.
“There were the usual management meetings,” he said, “but there wasn’t a lot of bad blood.”
Tasty Baking employs 870, including sales and corporate staff, as well as nonunion workers at a Chester County plant in Oxford, Pa.
As a native of Philadelphia, Condran said he was looking forward to buying Tasty Baking products – especially Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes, a longtime favorite that was forbidden in his home because the company did not employ union bakers.
“The Condran household now proudly welcomes TastyKakes,” he concluded.
What Makes a Green Bakery?
The LEED standards that certify the BCTGM-represented Tasty Baking plant as a Green facility are:
- A white, reflective roof, which minimizes heat-absorbing surfaces that contribute to global warming.
- No-mow, drought-resistant grass that uses less water.
- All wood doors and half of the wood used in the building come from certified sustainable sources that work to conserve trees.
- Paints and carpeting with low chemical content that reduce ear, nose and throat irritation.
- Refrigeration equipment uses environmentally friendly refrigerants to minimize emissions that contribute to global warming.
- Covered parking lot lights that reduce light pollution; bike racks and access to public transportation that reduce vehicle usage and pollution.
- Solar panels on the roof that provide power.
- A heat-recycling system, which reduces the amount of energy needed to produce products.
- All of Tasty Baking products are packed in recyclable cartons and cases that save trees.
Tasty Bakery Worker puts his experience to music
BCTGM Local 492 member Greg Sadowski, chief shop steward at the newly organized Tasty Baking Co. plant in Philadelphia, is also a singer/song writer.