Judge Drops the Hammer on Union Members at Hostess

Bruce Vail
In These Times
May 09, 2012

Allows company to cancel union contracts; on same day, Twinkie-maker sends lay-off notices to all 18,500 workers.

A federal judge is moving to end a tense labor standoff at Hostess Brands by bringing the heavy hand of bankruptcy law down in favor of the corporate managers and against the employees who produce the cakes and breads that have made the company famous.

Judge Robert Drain issued an order May 4 giving the company permission to unilaterally cancel union contracts covering thousands of production workers at the plants where Wonder Bread, Twinkies and dozens of other goods are made. The workers—represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union (BCTGM)—may see their wages and benefits arbitrarily reduced by the company, as well as losing the labor union rights they have enjoyed for decades.

Drain’s decision is equally bad news for the Hostess employees represented by the Teamsters and a half-dozen other smaller unions. Bankruptcy court proceedings are already in progress to strip these workers of their labor rights as well, and Drain’s action against the BCTGM indicates that other union members can expect the same sort of treatment at his hands.

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