Hostess threatens liquidate if workers don't return

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Reported by: Ian Silver
Updated: 11/16/2012 9:09 am Published: 11/15/2012 10:58 am

Hostess threatened striking employees with a 4 p.m. deadline on Thursday to get back to work or the company would start liquidating.

But that deadline came and went without word from the company.

Hostess workers nationwide, including here in Tulsa, are protesting a proposed eight percent wage cut, plus cuts to other benefits including pensions.

Roughly one-third of Hostess's 18,000 employees are members of the striking union. Without those employees, Hostess has struggled to continue operating.

Many of the 160 employees in Tulsa are members of the striking union, as well.

If Hostess decides to liquidate its brands and properties, all of those employees could potentially lose their jobs.

But local workers said the deep cuts were worth fighting against.

"Most people work paycheck to paycheck," Doyle Briggs, an employee of the Tulsa Wonderbread factory and a union member, said. "And we're out here with no paycheck. But you've got to do what you've got to do for your family."

For Briggs, that means refusing to give up his pension benefits after more than 20 years at the bakery.

"It's the big picture," he said. "You know, you might go in there and you might make good money for a little while, but you're giving up your future."

"We may give up our future anyway, but you've got to stand for something."

Plus, Briggs said Hostess's threats were never going to get workers to sign the new agreement.

"If they sell the company, [the buyer is] supposed to buy the contract that we're currently under," Briggs said.

"There's no incentive."

After 27 years at the Tulsa bakery, Joe Morrison isn't at risk of losing his pension. But he's still standing by his fellow union members and fighting for what he thinks is right.

"We're going to stick to our principles," he said. "If they liquidate it like they've been threatening for the last six months, we'll go get other jobs. But right now on principle we've got to stand."

Tulsa business analyst Jake Dollarhide said Hostess having to liquidate may be inevitable either way.

"They're not in a very good place," he said. "They've already said that they lost $394 million last year."

But whether the local plant is sold or not, it could be bad for Tulsa either way.

"Because even if they're sold to a healthier company, that healthier company, as we know, may not keep those jobs."

With so much uncertainty, Briggs said all the workers have at this point is their principles and pride.

"You still lost everything," he said. "So you've got to fight. You've got to fight for what you believe in."

But even if the jobs go away, Dollarhide said Hostess's most famous brands, like Twinkies, Ding-Dongs and Wonderbread, among others, would likely still be around.

"We're not going to lose the Twinkie," he said. "Because even if they go chapter 7 and Hostess is no more they will sell those brands."

"They will sell those ingredients and all those trademarks and all those patents to another company, and that company will continue to make Twinkies."

Hostess's 18,000 employees are spread out across the country in 36 bakeries. This is the company's second bankruptcy in the past 10 years.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

bravo619 - 11/16/2012 10:15 AM
0 Votes
You 8% pay cut and higher insurance or no pay check...really? What is wrong with you people at hostess! We are all paying higher insurance and taking pay cuts to keep our you are on the government roles too and we have to pay for you guys to sit on your rear ends...THANKS!

USEagle - 11/15/2012 3:19 PM
1 Vote
No Twinkies for Tallahassee in Zombieland. Sorry Woody. However if Hostess just hires NON union people, then we would have our cupcakes as well. Unions are just a bunch of over paid whining babies.

bowlerdave - 11/15/2012 12:08 PM
0 Votes
I would say it would be sad to say goodbye to Twinkies and such. But I haven't been able to afford one in so long, it's not like I would be missing anything if they went away.
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