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Workers Strike at Hostess Forces Shutdown of Bakeries, May Lead To Shutdown of Company

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

If you haven’t already stocked up on Twinkies, you better do it now.

Hostess Brands, the maker of Twinkies and other snack cakes, has shut down 3 of its bakeries in response to workers’ strikes. The closings have led to a permanent loss of over 600 jobs, and according to Hostess, the worst might still be yet to come.

More than 200 members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union in Lenexa began a walkout Friday at the end of their shifts, the local said.

The strike spread over the weekend to thousands of workers at about two-thirds of Hostess’s 36 bakeries throughout the country.

The actions may pinch the supply of Hostess snack cakes and Wonder bread. Of greater impact is that company officials said Monday that they will close bakeries in St. Louis, Cincinnati and Seattle that employ a total of 627 workers.

Hostess Brands chief executive Gregory F. Rayburn said the Irving, Texas-based company regrets the decision, “but we have repeatedly explained that we will close facilities that are no longer able to produce and deliver products because of a work stoppage — and that we will close the entire company if widespread strikes cripple our business.”

The bakery workers union said the contract would cut wages and benefits by 27 to 32 percent, including an immediate 8 percent wage cut.

Hostess, which makes Twinkies, Wonder Bread and Ding Dongs, filed for Chapter 11 protection in January. That was its second bankruptcy petition; the first was in 2004. In reorganization, the company has closed 21 plants and eliminated thousands of jobs.

For Hostess, it looks like a perfect storm of financial ruin. They’ve already filed for bankruptcy, twice; their workers are unhappy with the drastic cuts; most of their customers are looking for healthier options; and no one is willing to buy them out. Although I’m not particularly a fan of Twinkies myself, it’s always disheartening to see a longtime business going under, especially when jobs are hard enough to come by as it is.

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