Tasty Baking Co.'s bakers, warehouse workers, food-safety technicians, auto mechanics, and vending drivers have voted, 2-1, to join a union.
The votes - 149 in favor, 72 opposed - were counted shortly before midnight Wednesday, with 221 workers out of 240 casting ballots, said James Condran, the union representative working with Philadelphia-based Local 492 of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union.
"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," Condran said. "They felt they needed some security." In the spring, the company shifted production from its longtime plant on Hunting Park Avenue in North Philadelphia to a new facility in the Naval Business Center in South Philadelphia.
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."
David Vidovich, vice president of human resources and labor relations at Tasty Baking, agreed with Condran's assessment.
"We respect the decision of our employees. We will honor our obligations in the election," he said.
Vidovich thanked the employees for their hard work in the transition, but declined to comment on seniority issues.
Tasty Baking's maintenance workers are already represented by International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98. The bakery workers' union had made an unsuccessful attempt to unionize the plant in the 1980s, Condran said, and the Teamsters tried and failed in the 1990s.
Tasty Baking employs 870, including sales and corporate staff, as well as nonunion workers at a Chester County plant in Oxford, Vidovich said.
Condran said he would contact the company shortly to set up contract negotiations.
Because he grew up in Philadelphia, Condran said he was looking forward to buying some Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes, a longtime favorite that was forbidden in his home because the company did not employ union bakers.
"The Condran household," he said, "now welcomes TastyKakes."