Hostess Bakers to Strike—What will Teamsters do?

Josh Kosman
New York Post
November 09, 2012

Bakers at seven or eight Hostess plants are planning a strike this weekend, The Post has learned.

The bankrupt maker of Twinkies and Wonder Bread implemented a pay cut at these plants after members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union rejected the proposal.

The pact includes an 8 percent first year pay cut, a suspension of pension payments and a cut to health care benefits.

The affected plants include those in Indianapolis, Orlando, Rocky Mount, NC, and Waterloo, Iowa, sources said.

The pay cuts were forced on only one-third of Hostess bakery workers — not at each of its 36 plants.

The labor contract allows a strike only if a pay package is forced on workers.

The plan by management was to keep some workers on the job — and production humming.

"A widespread strike will cause Hostess Brands to liquidate if we are unable to produce or deliver products," a company spokesman said. "We urge our employees to remain on the job to rebuild this company."

The Bakers union did not return calls.

A second union at Hostess, The Teamsters, voted to accept the reduced pay package.

Hostess CEO Gregory Rayburn in recent weeks has been unsuccessful in engaging the Bakers union in talks, sources said.

There is some question whether the planned strike will hold.

Bakers union leaders have warned members not to cross a picket line. They will face stiff fines if they do, according to a memo the union sent out to members.

"Bakers are asking me how to resign from their union so they can avoid a fine from crossing the picket line," a Teamsters worker told The Post.

The Philadelphia bakery workers, which make Wonder Bread and Twinkies for the New York City area, have been told they need to honor a picket line, a Philadelphia plant worker said.

Although they are not expected to strike this weekend, workers from striking plants could picket in front of the Philadelphia plant.

Bakery Union Head Frank Hurt said in September that Hostess is a company "that is controlled by Wall Street private equity and hedge-fund firms, whose sole objective is to maximize their own returns, not rebuild a company for the long haul."

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