Sweet! Newly unionized London cake makers win big wage hike in new deal

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More than 800 newly unionized workers at London’s giant dessert-maker have won a new collective agreement after a tough round of bargaining.

Workers at the Original Cakerie on Innovation Drive, the food manufacturer that bakes 10,000 cakes a day for shipment across Canada and the U.S., ratified a three-year deal that gives workers a 12 per cent wage increase, a signing bonus, improvements to weekend and shift premiums, enhanced vacations, scheduling, time-off and pension improvements.

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“I feel good about this. It’s a first collective agreement and it gives us a base to build on,” said Brian Chapman, president of Unifor Local 27 which represents the workers.

Workers voted 60 per cent to accept the deal at a vote this week. Bargaining began in November and the two sides met 29 times. 

“First collective agreements take longer and there are a lot of workers there,” said Chapman.

The agreement comes after workers initially rejected a tentative agreement May 17, sending the union and company back to the bargaining table. The company improved language on issues around scheduling and attendance and offered a $250 signing bonus to get the agreement.

The wage increase is six per cent in the first year and three per cent in each of the subsequent two years. 

“We’re pleased to have reached this agreement with Unifor and the workers at our London facility. We have tremendous respect for our employees and want to be an employer of choice in the community. We look forward to continuing to work together to make our premium dessert and cakes,” read a statement on the agreement the Cakerie released.

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Unifor members at the Original Cakerie include production, mixing, decorating, machine operations, sanitation and maintenance workers.

Among its customers, the Cakerie sends cakes to Costco and other grocery store chains. 

“Original Cakerie workers know that the most powerful way to achieve fairness and respect in the workplace is to join a union and negotiate the conditions of their work,” Unifor national president Lana Payne said in a statement.

“In one short year, these courageous trailblazers have organized and won an incredible contract that showcases the remarkable power of worker solidarity, especially as we fight back hard against economic injustice.” 

Unifor organized the plant in July 2023 when it had more than 700 workers. Unifor now has 820 members at the plant.

In 2019, the London plant underwent a significant expansion of 3,250 square metres, adding a new building and increasing its product line. It employed about 400 workers five years ago.

Cakerie makes more than 50 premium cakes as well as many different bars and brownies.

ndebono@postmedia.com

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