If you took a trip to a supermarket last weekend, you may have noticed an unpleasant void on the shelves that would deeply depress ones sweet tooth: At many stores around the country, the spongy, delicious Twinkies and other Hostess snack cakes were sold out within hours of an announcement that Hostess Brands, Inc. was beginning the process of filing for bankruptcy.
While Hostess closing its factories would be detrimental to those who enjoy the cream-filled snacks, the real tragedy is that 18,000 jobs are at stake and an iconic American brand is once again on the verge of collapsing because the companys executives and the unions could not agree on reasonable compensation plans.
Whether it was mismanagement by the companys executives or union actions that led to the Hostess dilemma is highly impossible to determine without being able to see the private companys finances.
Hostess management and union representatives were ordered by bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain to continue negotiations to save the company and its 565 distribution centers from being liquidated.
Regardless of who is to blame for the companys misfortune, both sides need to reevaluate their goals and do what it takes to get the factories back open.
After the initial announcement of the companys impending liquidation, both the management and the union that represents the factory workers began to point the blame at each other. According to the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International union website, the workers staged a strike after their wages and benefits were cut while company executives received substantial bonuses and pay increases. Hostess management stated that the union strike crippled production and blamed the union for the companys demise.
It is sad that Americans must wait on the verge of losing their jobs to take action against unfair employer practices, and all that both sides can do is bicker back and forth about who fired first while the situation
still persists. Though it is reassuring that Drain forced both sides of the Hostess issue to continue in mediation, the reluctance of executives and unions to get along at the expense of American workers is deplorable.
In the meantime, consumers are eating up as many Twinkies as they can hoping the companys factories wont shut its doors for good. This iconic brands dilemma should serve as an example of the sorry state of employee-employer relations in the U.S. and shed light on the importance of unions.
Robert Scime is a senior majoring in mass communications.