The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

November 16, 2012

Closure decision expected today from Hostess Brands

IRVING, Texa —  Hostess Brands Inc. said Thursday it is not likely to make an announcement until today on whether it will move to liquidate its business. The company had set a Thursday deadline for striking employees to return to work.

The maker of Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and Wonder Bread had warned employees that it would file a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to sell off assets if plant operations didn’t return to normal levels by 5 p.m. Thursday. That would result in the loss of about 18,000 jobs.

A spokesman for Hostess said the company probably would make an announcement today after assessing plant operations Thursday evening.

Hostess has reached a contract agreement with its largest union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

But thousands of members of its second-biggest union went on strike late last week after rejecting in September a contract offer that cut wages and benefits. Officials for the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union say the company stopped contributing to members’ pensions last year.

Hostess, a privately held company, filed for Chapter 11 protection in January, its second trip through bankruptcy court in less than a decade.

The company cited increasing pension and medical costs for employees as one of the drivers behind its latest filing. Hostess has argued that employees must make concessions for it to exit bankruptcy and improve its financial position.

On Thursday afternoon, striking workers continued picketing outside the company’s Northwood plant, which bakes white and wheat Wonder Bread, among other products.

“We don’'t want to just get by, we want to be comfortable,” said Toledoan Varian England, a 14-year employee of the plant. “Maybe not be rich, but just be comfortable. A lot of us, we have kids, and [the company] doesn’t make it easy. We gave back once before. We took one pay cut, a lot of us can’t afford to take another pay cut.”

The plant’s 110 production and maintenance employees represented by Local 19 of the bakery union have been striking since last Friday. Union officials said their members were striking at 26 of the company’s 33 production plants as of Wednesday. Workers at the Hostess bakery in Defiance were not striking.

Randy Moore, who has worked at the Northwood plant for 12 years, said he and others are fed up with multiple pay cuts, the company’s decision to stop contributing to pension plans, and policies such as an attendance requirement that doesn’t provide chances for appeal.

Although the company has threatened to go into liquidation if not enough bakery union employees returned to work, Mr. Moore said he felt it wouldn’t make a difference.

“We’re going to lose our jobs either way,” he said. “Go down swinging.”

Stan LaBuda, a business agent for Local 19 of the bakery union based in Cleveland, said he took the company’s threats seriously.

“The problem we have here is the hedge funds that are heavily invested in this company now, they’re not in the business of baking bread,” he said. “They want to make money. Their whole thought, I think, behind this was if they could get these guys to agree to a five-year concessionary agreement, this company probably would have been sold already. They probably have buyers waiting. They’re trying to walk away from a billion dollars of pension liabilities.”

Mr. LaBuda said the average employee at the Northwood plant makes $12 to $15 an hour.

“It’s not huge money,” he said. “It’s hot, it’s hard work, it’s crazy hours. When everybody’s at home on Christmas Day, Thanksgiving Day with their families, these guys are here baking bread and buns. You make a lot of sacrifice to work in a bakery.”

Although the company is calling for an 8 percent wage reduction, Mr. LaBuda said many employees are facing a 35 to 40 percent cut in wages and benefits from what they were making in 2007. “We’re not even keeping up with the times,” Mr. England said. “We’re supposed to go forward, not back.”

Blade business writer Tyrel Linkhorn contributed to this report.

 

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • GROUNDED U.S., other countries ban flights to and from Israel

    A Hamas rocket exploded Tuesday near Israel’s main airport, prompting a ban on all flights from the U.S. and many from Europe and Canada as aviation authorities responded to the shock of seeing a civilian jetliner shot down over Ukraine.

    July 23, 2014

  • REPORT: Retaliation by supervisors common at VA

    A pharmacy supervisor at the VA was placed on leave after complaining about errors and delays in delivering medications to patients at a hospital in Palo Alto, California. In Pennsylvania, a doctor was removed from clinical work after complaining that on-call doctors were refusing to go to a VA hospital in Wilkes-Barre.

    July 22, 2014

  • Veteran's Ducks Iraq vet cited for owning 14 therapeutic pet ducks

    An Army veteran who hurt his back during the Iraq War is worried a citation will result in him losing his 14 pet ducks, which he says are therapeutic.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stacked Apartment.jpg New York building shows how mod design stacks up as cool

    In a city piled high with ambitious architecture, a seven-floor structure off the beaten path boasts a distinction of its own: It’s billed as the first multistory, modular-built apartment building to open in the nation’s apartment capital.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scores dead in first major ground battle in Gaza

    The first major ground battle in two weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting exacted a steep price Sunday: It killed 65 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers and forced thousands of terrified Palestinian civilians to flee their neighborhood, reportedly used to launch rockets at Israel and now devastated by the fighting.

    July 21, 2014

  • Traditional lottery games hold their own

    Ohio’s traditional lottery games are mostly doing well despite competition from their electronic counterparts at four racinos.

    July 20, 2014

  • HIV diagnosis rate fell by third in U.S. over decade

    The rate of HIV infections diagnosed in the United States each year fell by one-third over the past decade, a government study finds. Experts celebrated it as hopeful news that the AIDS epidemic may be slowing in the U.S.

    July 20, 2014

  • Suddenly, the sun is eerily quiet: Where did the sunspots go?

    The sun has gone quiet. Almost too quiet.

    July 20, 2014

  • Monitors try to secure Ukraine plane crash site

    International monitors moved gingerly Saturday through fields reeking of the decomposing corpses that fell from a Malaysian airliner shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine, trying to secure the sprawling site in hopes that a credible investigation can be conducted.

    July 19, 2014

  • Israeli bulldozers destroy Hamas tunnels in Gaza

     Israeli bulldozers on Saturday demolished more than a dozen tunnels the military said were being used by Hamas gunmen to sneak beneath the southern border of the Jewish state and carry out attacks on its soldiers and civilians.

    July 19, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video