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Return and rebuild or leave voluntarily: Hostess Brands tells strikers

By Kacey Culliney , 12-Nov-2012

Twinkies-maker Hostess Brands has called on its striking union workers to either return to help rebuild the struggling firm or leave voluntarily.

Since last Friday 9, Hostess workers from the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) have been on strike. Numbers of employees on strike and plants affected have been building steadily over the weekend and today.

So far, a total of 18 labor groups from the union have gone on strike, impacting production plants and sales, transport and mechanic facilities.

“We know the concessions are tough, but it would make more sense for unhappy employees to simply leave the company voluntarily than to strike and cause the company to close down, forcing everyone to lose their jobs,” Hostess said in a statement.

The firm’s reactionary announcement comes just weeks after the its CEO sent out a letter to employees of the same effect.

In it, Gregory Rayburn had asked employees to make “the only rational choice” and stay on the job to join forces and save Hostess, or alternatively leave without forcing job losses among others. See HERE .

Members from BCTGM labor group Local 1. Photo Credit: BCTGM

Members from BCTGM labor group Local 1. Photo Credit: BCTGM

Liquidation on the cards

Erik Halvorson, spokesperson for Hostess Brands, told BakeryandSnacks.com: "These strikes do threaten the survival of the company.  Widespread disruption of our production and distribution capability will force us to liquidate due to our inability to resume full scale production.  We are encouraging employees to return to work to avert this outcome. Striking employees are being informed of this danger." 

"If the strike continues, we will be forced to make decisions about plant closures as soon as today, and liquidation in a matter of days," Halvorson added.

Texas-based Hostess Brands operates 36 bakeries, 565 distribution centers and 570 bakery outlet stores in the US.

The BCTGM represents 6,600 Hostess employees (around one-third) and is the firm’s second largest union behind the Teamsters.

The strike catalyst

The strike is in retaliation to a pay-cutting deal enforced upon BCTGM members that it had earlier rejected.

As part of its attempt to move forward out of bankruptcy, Hostess had compiled a collective bargaining agreement, welcomed by the Teamsters Union but rejected by BCTGM.

However, on October 3, the bankruptcy court ruled that the agreement could be enforced on BCTGM members. See HERE .

The Union’s CEO, Frank Hurt, has labeled the move – that will see wages cut by 8% and benefits reduced – “deplorable”.

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