Hostess, the company that brought the Twinkie and Ho-Ho to the American apocalypse food cache, has announced that it will be closing its doors, selling off everything that it can, and laying off each and every one of its 18,500 employees. The company has taken a gut punch in the past few years, and was trying to get through bankruptcy, in part, by getting concessions out of its union employees. The Teamsters, of all people, accepted less of a piece of the action rather than lose everything. The Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, on the other hand, decided it was better to douse itself in kerosene and light up a Pall Mall. Instead of losing a chunk of their pension but keeping their jobs, now they have neither a pension nor a job.
Now, consider this:
Hostess was founded in 1930, at the dawn of the Great Depression. It survived the Depression, and probably thrived during World War II. Over the next few decades it figured out how to get Baby Boomers to buy its products and then feed them to their kids. It survived health food booms and economic hard times. Now, in really bad economic straits, weighed down by bloated union contracts, it went into bankruptcy. The bankruptcy court ordered a reduction in pension and benefits for their bakers, who went on strike. The company warned the union that it would shut its doors if strikers didn’t return, the union called their bluff, and now the company is being shuttered.
In other words, a company that was able to withstand 80 years of boom and bust was killed off by obstinate bakers who were more worried about giving up a little than than they were about losing a lot. The union decided that letting the company die was better than doing their part to keep it alive.
Good luck finding work in this economy, members of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union. I’m sure there are lots and lots of jobs in your area for an industrial baker. Also enjoy explaining to the Teamsters why thousands of their drivers are now on unemployment. I hope y’all enjoy your holidays while a long-lived American company is dismembered and sold to the highest bidder.
And before you ask, I hate Hostess baked sweets and Wonder Bread. I will admit to using some of their sandwich breads that at least looked like someone had sprayed on a bit of nutrition. But that’s beside the point. I was just as pissed at the UAW over the state of Chrysler and GM when they went into meltdown. Unions, especially unions in well-established companies, are a cancer that is eating away at the core of our industry. Companies that have no way to get control of their costs, including the cost of employee benefits and retirements, are not going to do well, and that means more people out of work. I hope the members of the bakers’ union are happy now that they’re the forefront of the latest wave of American unemployment.