ICYMI: You’re going to throw the American union worker under the bus … for a Twinkie?

No, that’s not the Governor saying that. It’s me. This post is for some of my friends so freaked at the loss of their favorite sweet treat that they’re buying Hostess Brands’ standard corpo scapegoating of its own workers.

Mashable informs us some enterprising soul has listed a single Twinkie on eBay with a starting bid of $5,000. Almost surely somebody with more whimsy and more money than sense will pay that.

Get a grip, America.

For those so threatened by the loss of their favorite fatty simple carbohydrate that they forget their bedrock political values, a few facts:

  • This is Hostess Brands second bankruptcy in 8 years.

  • Since the 2004 bankruptcy, workers made big wage/benefit concessions, told those concessions would strengthen Hostess.

  • Even with those, Hostess shut down 21 plants; thousands lost their jobs.

  • Management promised workers their 2004 bankruptcy concessions would be invested in capital improvements, plant equipment upgrades, and product development. But a lot of that money went to executive bonuses & high-priced attorneys and consultants.

  • Hostess CEO got a 300% raise this year: $750,000 to $2,550,000.

  • Other Hostess execs also got windfall races, doubling salaries.

  • Over the last year-plus, Hostess ended contractual pension payments to employees. Unilaterally.

    Yeah, my source is Labor. But it isn’t just the union saying Hostess is responsible for its own troubles. The National Consumer League says the same thing:

    “It is years of poor management – not the reasonable demands to improve working conditions of the BCTGM – that led to the company’s demise. What a terrible time of year to take away the livelihood of 18,500 workers and the dozens of communities with factories that will be shuttered. Today’s announcement is a sad commentary on corporate America. The Hostess Brand’s executives put profits before people, paying large bonuses to executives while forcing the workers to give up benefits and pensions, once again putting Wall Street investors and themselves before the interests of the workers who build the brand.”

    The death of a company is a complicated matter. I don’t claim to have the autopsy results. My Facebook friends span the spectrum. I’m not surprised the right-wingers jump to the union-as-villain scenario. But I’m amazed some other friends haven’t bothered to look up and consider what the people who made their favorite treats for years, who built that company, have to say for themselves.

    /end rant

  • Comments (15)

    1. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Y’all know somebody’s going to buy the recipes for your favorite guilty pleasures, right? They’re company assets. I suspect we all shall Twinkie again.  

      Reply
    2. rubydede

      And here comes the Hostess twist: because Tim Collins of Ripplewood, was a prominent Democrat, a position which allowed him to get involved in the first bankruptcy process in the first place, due to his proximity with the Teamsters’ long-term heartthrob Dick Gephardt (whose consulting group just happens to also be an equity owner of Hostess). In other words, the traditional republican-PrivateEquity scapegoating strategy here will be a tough one to pull off since the narrative collapses when considering that it was a Democrat who rescued the firm, only to see it implode in a trainwreck that has resulted in the liquidation of a legendary brand, and 18,500 layoffs.

      Reply
    3. Bertin Lefkovic

      …are better.  Allowing yourself to be vultured by private equity is a bad idea, but producing an inferior product in a competitive marketplace is going to kill your company faster than your company’s products are going to kill its consumers.  Twinkies haven’t been good for a very long time.  Even making them with chocolate filling didn’t make much of a difference.  Butterscotch Krimpets and Funny Bones RULE!

      Reply
    4. Jersey Shore John
    5. Alex

      Thanks for writing this, Rosi. I’ve been spending the last few days shaking my head at my Facebook feed as I see people’s posts on this whole Twinkie story, most of which seem to focus on the sense of loss (almost as if a relative had died) and miss some larger issues. Among these, to my mind, are: the speed with which so many (the media, people on the right, and even people on the left) are quick to jump on the union-bashing bandwagon; this country’s love affair with (make that addiction to) mass-produced nutrient-free ersatz food; the refusal of the corporate media outlets to draw the linkages between subsidized corn and corn-derived (HFCS) products, the comparative low price (but certainly not low societal cost) of mass-produced food products, the problems of obesity, adult-onset diabetes, heart disease, etc. and the high demand for healthcare to address those problems after the fact rather than on a preventative basis.

      Reply
    6. carolh

      http://blogs.forbes.com/adamha…  The first is a good example of how NOT to run a business by never innovating. Business analysts are actually faulting management.  The Street had a good article on exactly what happened at Hostess thatsounds like it more accurately reflects what is going on here. It sounds like a Bain story all over again. Companies trying to get out of pension obligations.  http://www.thestreet.com/story

      Reply

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