By Basim Motiwala
This past September, employees at Hostess Brands came together and overwhelmingly rejected a contract offer by the company that seeks to cut wages and benefits by as much as 32%. The contractual dispute led to the workers deciding to begin a strike on November 9, 2012 against the well-known maker of Wonder Bread, Twinkies, and other baked goods. The Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) union claims that since July 2011 Hostess has failed to make their contractually obligated payments to the pensions of Hostess employees. Instead, BCTGM claims that Hostess has pocketed approximately $160 million that is owed to its workforce.
Hostess Brands is now in their second bankruptcy in eight years. In response to the first bankruptcy, BCTGM members across the nation have taken cuts to their wages and made benefit concessions all the while they witnessed 21 Hostess plants shut down and thousands of jobs lost. The BCTGM members were led to believe by Hostess management that the money saved form their concessions and plant closings would help make the company stronger and more competitive. The union claims that Hostess lied to them and the saved money was instead funneled toward executive bonuses and payments to the hedge fund that owns Hostess brands. It appears that the Hostess employees have a desire to come to a solution based on their willingness to accept concessions when the first bankruptcy occurred. Hostess cannot expect their employees to bend over backward for them.
The Hostess employees, feeling that their backs are against the wall and that they have made as many concessions as they can, have now gone on strike with the support of BCTGM union as a whole. More information can be found here.