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Hostess dilemma shows importance of unions, snacks

Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 07:11

If you took a trip to a supermarket last weekend, you may have noticed an unpleasant void on the shelves that would deeply depress one’s 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 company’s executives and the unions could not agree on reasonable compensation plans. 
Whether it was mismanagement by the company’s executives or union actions that led to the Hostess dilemma is highly impossible to determine without being able to see the private company’s 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 company’s 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 company’s 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 company’s 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 company’s factories won’t shut its doors for good. This iconic brand’s 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.

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Marty in Jupiter
Thu Nov 29 2012 20:51
Mr. Scime - Why has no one covered why the union management decided that holding out (and eventually watching the bankruptcy occur as a result) was the better position for the employees? Could it be because the union employees, having seen their pensions, that they paid into, continue to erode under the management...and that, in order to preserve the remaining pension monies and guarantee its distribution to its union members, it was a better overall move to let the company dissolve so that the employees can retain what they have left in their accounts?
Tue Nov 20 2012 18:42

Based on your comments it is clear that you are ill prepared in the business aspects of the working world.

First, the point of this article wants to demonstrate the differences between public vs private. Which by the way, both must answer to the IRS in regard to bankruptcy proceedings. Hence, the judge stepping in. Accounting 101!
Second, regardless of which political party you are affiliated with the end of a longstanding American brand, whether it be motor vehicles or a snack cake distributor, is a tragedy to this nation.

ALSO, have you seen the unemployment rates? It is not as easy to just find another job. Employees and Corporations should be able to work together and find common ground which is why unions are in place.

Tue Nov 20 2012 13:27
Robert, based on this article it is clear who you voted for in the last election. First, the bakers union clearly was the straw that broke the camels back. Second, a private company is under no obligation to keep its doors open to anyone. The fact that the Judge is inserting himself into the process of a PRIVATE COMPANY doing what the board of directors wants is clearly a case of the judge overstepping his limits. Third, if you do not like what the company you work for is doing, FIND A NEW JOB. Last I checked this is a free country and the door to new opportunities is open.

Maybe you should stroll over to the Economics department before you graduate and wind up with no clue.

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