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Problems Working for Bakeries

post #1 of 74
Thread Starter 

Hello all, 

 

I am generally pretty new to cake decorating. I have worked for quite a few different bakeries. It has almost turned me off from the business. I'm wondering if anyone else has had these issues working for a bakery:

 

1. Extremely low pay. 

The pay tends to be very low and expectations of you are extremely high. The highest pay I have received is my current job that pays $12 an hour, and I'm pretty sure it won't go up from there.

 

2. Disgusting working environment.

Dirty kitchen, flies, frozen cakes, old pastries. I am constantly seeing this.

 

3. Working a free "trial" day.

Every bakery I have worked at makes you work an entire shift for free to test your skills. It seems quite illegal but they all do it.

 

4. No breaks.

This is actually illegal and I have seen this at EVERY bakery I've worked at. They do NOT let you take a break. As a decorator, your hours are long and you are on your feet all day. I worked at one recently that said you can eat lunch, but you have to work and eat at the same time.

 

5. Near impossible to even get a job.

There have been times where I was unemployed for months because of quitting an awful bakery job. There are so few jobs in my area (Long Island, NY) and they are extremely competitive. 

 

I guess maybe it depends on the location, but this has been every bakery I have worked at in the past 2 years. Most of them I left after no time at all because of these conditions. It is very off-putting to someone trying to break into the industry. Business is very slow for my home business (not sure how to market myself) and does not pay the bills. So I will have to continue enduring the nightmare that is working for bakeries.

post #2 of 74

I feel for you. I am in northern Va and have encountered similar things. Very low pay (same as you), hard to find jobs, but I do have to say my current bakery is very clean and "requires" breaks. The last one i worked at (on the other hand) WAS disgusting with no breaks. For them to even suggest you eat WHILE you work seems like a sanitary violation! Truth be told, its not a great career unless you become a very succesful owner!

post #3 of 74

If you are working in illegal conditions, these need to be reported.  The only way things will change is if someone acts.

post #4 of 74

~~~ramblings~~~

 

yeah that's the way it is--not saying it's right

 

sure you can report it but kiss your job and resume good bye too unfortunately

 

i'm not saying it's right i'm just saying yeah that's the way it is

 

sometimes working for a grocery store bakery improves the working conditions a bit sometimes not though plus you get benefits--can make manager

 

yeah it's very demanding labor

 

maybe if you can get in with a caterer who does their own wedding cakes and does food also--things can possibly improve because they are not putting all their eggs in the baking basket

 

you either jump ship and veer into another line of work or suck it up and vow to make it better when you are the head decorator or can get your own place going

 

but that head decorator job in a bakery is often a family thing or only available if somebody dies--srsly

 

bakery business is a penny business--makes very little profit look at a loaf of bread--no profit there--danish phffft no profit really barely break even after you pay for the time to make it

 

that's no reason for a place to be dirty but not a lot of the green stuff

 

wedding cakes--yes better/nice profit margin--can be a solid business 

 

another possibility is working for a nice hotel in dessert land--they offer muy benefits--but the work load can kill yeah there too

 

that's why it kills me to hear some folks bash big box and any kinda hourly bakery person--they are busting a$$ and taking hits from all sides--the disrespect is shocking to me

 

oh well

 

hang in there & make it happen for yourself

 

♥♥♥ dream baby dream ♥♥♥

 

hey, we need a gordon ramsey for baking to go into bakeries & get them cleaned up like kitchen nightmares only bakery nightmares

 

i worked for this one place, a central baking facility that trucked it's wares out to the many different stores--backed those delivery vehicles up to the doc--left them running and the diesel fumes inflated the building every morning so after cranking it out all night you felt giddy almost--then you could be there 14 - 15 hours a shift on the weekends--straight up decorating--not icing--just speed rack after speed rack after sped rack loaded with iced cakes to decorate--oh god if someone made a mistake it was like a police interrogation--they had a refrigeration unit on the roof that 'cooled' the decorating room--no windows--every time that unit kicked on the smell of dirty socks was dissipated only by the trucks backed up to the doc--hey it's a job

 

they had an efficiency expert time management guy come through to check the place out--he was escorted everywhere but the decorating room--bwowahahahaha

 

hang in there!!!! i feel yah!!!

if you had your own tv show what would be your favorite commercial/sponsor

i think i'd like ghirardelli and hershey for starters...

Reply

if you had your own tv show what would be your favorite commercial/sponsor

i think i'd like ghirardelli and hershey for starters...

Reply
post #5 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by jackiegran View Post

3. Working a free "trial" day.

Every bakery I have worked at makes you work an entire shift for free to test your skills. It seems quite illegal but they all do it.

4. No breaks.

This is actually illegal and I have seen this at EVERY bakery I've worked at. They do NOT let you take a break. As a decorator, your hours are long and you are on your feet all day. I worked at one recently that said you can eat lunch, but you have to work and eat at the same time.

 

#3. Check your state law for minimum wage.  There might be a loophole.

 

#4 with regard to breaks, check your state law.  If you are part time, you get only short breaks in most places.

 

#4 Eating while decorating is GUARANTEED to get the entire place shut down by the board of health.

post #6 of 74

#5  Don't quit a job until you have another one lined up.  In a down economy it's even harder to find a job when you have mulitple jobs in a short span of time, say 5 years, and gaps in your resume.  Even awful employment is better than unemployment.

I homeschool because I've seen the village and I don't want it raising my children.

 

http://whynotethiopia2.blogspot.com/

 

 

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I homeschool because I've seen the village and I don't want it raising my children.

 

http://whynotethiopia2.blogspot.com/

 

 

Reply
post #7 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by jackiegran View Post

Hello all, 

I am generally pretty new to cake decorating. I have worked for quite a few different bakeries. It has almost turned me off from the business. I'm wondering if anyone else has had these issues working for a bakery:

1. Extremely low pay. 

The pay tends to be very low and expectations of you are extremely high. The highest pay I have received is my current job that pays $12 an hour, and I'm pretty sure it won't go up from there.

2. Disgusting working environment.

Dirty kitchen, flies, frozen cakes, old pastries. I am constantly seeing this.

3. Working a free "trial" day.

Every bakery I have worked at makes you work an entire shift for free to test your skills. It seems quite illegal but they all do it.

4. No breaks.

This is actually illegal and I have seen this at EVERY bakery I've worked at. They do NOT let you take a break. As a decorator, your hours are long and you are on your feet all day. I worked at one recently that said you can eat lunch, but you have to work and eat at the same time.

5. Near impossible to even get a job.

There have been times where I was unemployed for months because of quitting an awful bakery job. There are so few jobs in my area (Long Island, NY) and they are extremely competitive. 

 

I guess maybe it depends on the location, but this has been every bakery I have worked at in the past 2 years. Most of them I left after no time at all because of these conditions. It is very off-putting to someone trying to break into the industry. Business is very slow for my home business (not sure how to market myself) and does not pay the bills. So I will have to continue enduring the nightmare that is working for bakeries.

 

   Does this mean that it's now legal to bake from our homes on Long Island?   Last time i looked into it, I was under the impression that it was not allowed in either Nassau or Suffolk counties.   If something has changed, that's wonderful news.

post #8 of 74
NY does not have a cottage food law, but the state has a home processor exemption that may allow you to sell wholesale products only (not directly to customers) from home as long as the county does not override this exemption.
post #9 of 74

Jason - thanks.  that's what I remember from last time i looked into it.  OP - sorry I changed topic on this post.

post #10 of 74

That's the way the business is everywhere. If you want to make more money learn how to "frost" with grout. You're compliant list is relatively small, wait until you've been in the business loner and you run into ***ism, racism, language problems, retarded employers who don't belong in business and jealous co-workers............ just to name a few.

 

You can contact all the authorities you want and make all the points you can with employers and co-workers but the reality is, you can only control and regulate yourself..........so if you love what your doing........you tune out the garbage and get into your art. Then find websites like this, where you can find others that can relate.

post #11 of 74
In Idaho, and many other states, an employer is not actually required to give you breaks and/or lunches. It is up to the employer if they wish to provide such "benefits".
Plank.
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Plank.
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post #12 of 74
Surprisingly most states do not require rest breaks, and more than half do not even require meal breaks. NY does require meal breaks (30 minutes for shifts of 6 hours or more), but it does not require rest breaks unless there is a night shift.

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/meal-rest-breaks-rights-employee-29773.html

An anonymous call to the local occupational safety and food safety organizations would seem to be in order.
post #13 of 74
It is often seen as a benefit by employers, which is why I put it in quotes. Personally, I think it costs employers more in the long run to deny breaks and meals, but greed can blind employers to many things.
Plank.
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Plank.
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post #14 of 74

If you work for an established bakery as opposed to, say, a mom-and-pop type of place, it's in their best interest to stick to whatever the state labor law is regarding breaks.  Where I work, for instance, you HAVE to have a 15-minute break for every 4 hours worked.  If you work an 8-hour shift you HAVE to also have a 30-minute meal break.

 

A few years ago somebody (a current employee, I'm presuming) reported one of our oldest wholesale bakeries to the labor board for making all employees work off the clock during wedding season.  After an investigation, the bakery owner was found in violation of the labor law, had to pay back pay to all those employees, and ended up having to close for a time before he had enough capital bankrolled (through bank loans, I imagine) to reopen.  It was a big story, but it didn't shock anybody in the business because that's just the way things were  :shrug:  Everybody has since cleaned up their act, at least on paper.  I wouldn't be surprised if there were still places operating as such.

 

There's also the profit margin, as somebody upthread mentioned.  Baked goods are, by and large, cheap to make.  You make money by marking up the price because the loaf is "artisan" or includes ingredients not found in ordinary bread.  You mark up the price of decorated cakes because of the labor involved.  You have to sell a ton of bread (or cake or danish or whatever) to break even, never mind making a profit.  Therefore, it's in the bakery's best business interest to pay a lower-than-average salary, simplify decorating techniques, and extract as much labor as humanly possible, the idea being that if you're truly dedicated to the profession, you'll spill your blood, sweat, and tears every single time.  Is it fair?  Is it legal?  The food service/restaurant industry has been built on this model since time immemorial.  It the industry's way of separating the dilettante from the professional.  If you stick around long enough, you can make an actual living wage,  It boils down to the question, In your heart of hearts, how important is this work to you?  The people I've known/know who are dedicated don't even ask this.  They just know.

 

I've known many people broken from this industry -- the young person whose dreams are dashed to tears, the experienced independent decorator having to "lower" herself because she desperately needs the money, the jaded veteran who no longer gives a whit about quality...you name it, I've probably seen it.   And it's a tough business, depending on where you live.  More competition means less profit all around unless you're already established and/or very very very very very good and/or you can distinguish yourself from your competition.  It's not enough to be an excellent cake artist -- if you want to go into business for yourself, you also have to have (or have access to) the business chops to make your business a success.

 

(Sorry for this being longer than I intended -- evidently I'm in a rather chatty mood!) :)

post #15 of 74

words of wisdom, embersmom

if you had your own tv show what would be your favorite commercial/sponsor

i think i'd like ghirardelli and hershey for starters...

Reply

if you had your own tv show what would be your favorite commercial/sponsor

i think i'd like ghirardelli and hershey for starters...

Reply
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