Workers at Hostess Brands—who in September overwhelming rejected a contract that cut wages and benefits by as much as 32%—began a strike today against the maker of Wonder Bread, Twinkies and other well-known baked treats. Hostess has imposed the terms of the rejected contract.
Frank Hurt, president of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) says:
Hostess Brands is making a mockery of the labor relations system that has been in place for nearly 100 years. Our members are not just striking for themselves, but for all unionized workers across North America who are covered by collective bargaining agreements.
BCTGM says the company has ceased making contractually obligated payments to the Hostess workers’ pensions since July 2011 and has pocketed approximately $160 million—money earned by and owed to its dedicated workforce.
Hostess Brands is in bankruptcy for the second time in eight years. Since the first bankruptcy in 2004, BCTGM members across the country have taken dramatic wage and benefit concessions and watched as 21 Hostess plants were shut down and thousands of jobs were lost. At the time of the first bankruptcy, Hostess workers were assured by management that money saved via concessions and plant closings would help make the company stronger, more vibrant and more competitive.
Instead, according to the union, the money has gone towards executive bonuses and payments to the hedge fund that owns Hostess brands. Hurt says:
Our members have now said NO to Hostess and the Wall Street investors in the only means available to them, the strike. [We] stand in full and uncompromising support of our striking members.