No More Twinkies? Hostess Workers Threaten Strike

(Credit: Mark Lennihan/AP Photo)

Workers at Hostess Brands, maker of Twinkies , Ho Hos and Wonder Bread, have threatened to strike if the company imposes "unfair" contract terms, including wage cuts.

The Teamsters Union, representing about 7,500 of the company's 19,000 employees, said that more than 90 percent of its Hostess members voted to authorize a strike if "unfair contract terms" are approved as part of its bankruptcy proceedings.

Hostess, based in Irving, Texas, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Jan. 11 and is  continuing to operate during bankruptcy proceedings.

The company, which operates about 36 bakeries, has proposed new collective bargaining contracts for which a hearing is set on March 5. The U.S. bankruptcy judge will have 30 days to issue a ruling, the Teamsters Union said.

Dennis Raymond, director of the Teamsters Bakery and Laundry Conference, said the vote shows that while the union's Hostess members are willing to "take significant steps to save the company, they can only go so far."

Hostess, founded in 1930, filed for bankruptcy in 2004 and re-emerged in 2009. The company has about $860 million in debt.

"Twice before, they have made sacrifices to help this company with no progress to show for it," Raymond said in a statement. "They need to see their sacrifices matched by other key stakeholders and they need protections to make sure their sacrifices are not made in vain again due to mismanagement. While we remain committed to finding a solution to save the company, it won't be done solely on the backs of our members and Hostess employees."

A spokesman for Hostess declined to comment on the Teamsters' announcement.

Members of 12 unions make up the majority of Hostess workers. Almost 92 percent of the union employees belong to one of two unions: the International Brotherhood of Teamsters or the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, the latter of which has about 6,000 members, according to the Wall Street Journal and Reuters.

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