Hostess-Twinkies-box

The Day the Twinkie Died

On November 15, 2012, Hostess CEO Greg Rayburn decided to liquidate the company and, along with it, the Twinkie. I have always considered the Twinkie to be the best American dessert, representing what America is all about – freedom. In this case it is the freedom to eat a snack made from enriched, bleached wheat flour, sugar, eggs, and FD&C Yellow 5 (also found in pet food and nail polish remover). Bankruptcy became Hostess’ only option after the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union went on strike on November 9th – which I will remember as the day the Twinkie died. Rayburn had warned the union that the company “wouldn’t be able to withstand [a strike],” but they proceeded to put up picket lines anyway, causing 11 of Hostess’ 36 plants to close.

It is no secret that 93 percent of Hostess was unionized, but unlike the Baker’s Union, the Teamsters actually negotiated with the company and continued to work throughout the turmoil. Unfortunately, 15,000 workers have already been fired, with 3,500 being kept on board to help with plant closings. The 6,700 newly unemployed Teamster Hostess members at least knew better than to kill their own company. I guess some unions are just smarter than others.

The Baker’s Union has tried to argue that the company filed for bankruptcy because it had become unprofitable and because the public wasn’t providing enough demand for sweets to keep it up and running. This isn’t entirely truthful. Hostess makes more than $2 billion a year in sales, so it wasn’t that it couldn’t stay in business, it just needed to make wage cuts, close a few plants, and make its operations more efficient. However, the Baker’s Union refused to take a pay cut in order to keep the company afloat. The Baker’s Union also opposed plant closings, which would have resulted in layoffs for thousands of employees. However, a few thousand laid off workers is still better than 18,500. Maybe the union should get a math tutor. Moreover, inefficient clauses were grandfathered in to union contracts and they were never restructured. Rules that make it so that “one driver can only drive cake and the other can only drive bread” are fatal if your company is on the edge of bankruptcy, but unions usually force companies to adopt measures such as this one. To put it simply, the Baker’s Union killed the Twinkie.

Then, in a move that is almost as rich as a Ding Dong, the Baker’s Union employees declared that they were suing the company for terminating them without 60 days advance written notice, as is guaranteed under the WARN Act. A complaint filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, NY shows that laid off Hostess workers are seeking “unpaid wages, vacation pay and benefits for 60 days, with first priority administrative expense status.” First they force their own company to go under by crippling it with a strike, and then they sue because they are laid off without 60 days advance written notice. Unions have really reached a new low.

But it’s not the union’s fault; it’s the capitalist conservatives, right? Wrong. It’s true that the private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings took control of Hostess as part of its 2009 bankruptcy, but Tom Collins is more closely tied to former Democratic House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt and the Teamsters than he is to the Republican Party. Quadrangle Group, another private equity firm associated with Hostess, was co-founded by Steven Rattner – the man that Obama put in charge of General Motors and Chrysler in 2009. According to this information, it appears that unions and Democrats are hurting the economy. Who knew?

Rumor has it that Grupo Bimbo, a Mexican baked goods firm run by Daniel Servitje Montull, is interested in buying Hostess’ products, meaning that if we ever do see the Twinkie again, it may be Mexican. Because of the ignorance and selfishness of unions, the Twinkie is dead and may be resurrected with harina blanca, azucar, and amarillo cinco as its main ingredients. It is truly a sad day for all.

Adam Ondo | University of Rochester | @JoplinMaverick

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2 Responses

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  1. Jared Cowan
    Dec 13, 2012 - 10:34 PM

    I think Canada also has the rights to it, so you could conceivably get them there, though I imagine they’d be a bit overpriced, not that they weren’t already potentially

    Reply
    • Rodolfo
      Dec 22, 2012 - 06:54 AM

      That sounds good to me. Love anhyting pumpkin and who doesn’t love a twinkie. If you have visited our site you have seen a lot of recipes for pumpkin items in the month of October. Thank you for the comment you made to our blog site. We love your site too. Interesting and informative. We plan on visiting often.

      Reply

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