Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hostess Dies in Spiteful Murder-Suicide by Bakers Union

Twinkie funeral - pall bearers carry dead Twinkie
Funeral for Twinkies (image credit: unknown)
Granted, Hostess had a history of problems. But it was, if you will, a sick patient. That did not keep the bakers union -- Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers' International Union (BCTGM) -- from killing it.  The bakers union, knowing Hostess was ill, struck a fatal blow -- out of spite and despite please from the Teamsters to not strike.

UPDATE: Grupo Bimbo Cannot Buy Hostess Brands, Says CEO

Hostess's demise was the result of a build up of problems, yes, but the bakers union chose a selfish action that it knew would kill Hostess and hurt fellow employees not in their union. As a result of the bakers union actions, Hostess is laying off all 18,500 of its employees, including 1,415 in Illinois. The bakery union represented just under 5,700 Hostess workers.

"But Hostess reached an impasse with the bakery union. Frank Hurt, the union’s president, seemed to lose patience with Hostess’s management, upset that it was in bankruptcy for the second time despite $100 million in labor concessions. He saw little promise that management would turn things around," says a story in the NY Times. The full name of the bakers union, by the way, is the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers' International Union (BCTGM), and they have a very crappy website.

Frank Hurt - Bakers Union President
Frank Hurt - Twinkie Slayer
The NY Times continued: “Our members decided they were not going to take any more abuse from a company they have given so much to for so many years,” said Mr. Hurt. “They decided that they were not going to agree to another round of outrageous wage and benefit cuts and give up their pension only to see yet another management team fail and Wall Street vulture capitalists and ‘restructuring specialists’ walk away with untold millions of dollars.”

In other words, the non-genius Mr. Hurt (nice name) and his non-genius fellow union bosses cut off the noses of their membership to spite Hostess. They didn't want more wage cuts? What the hell is the loss of a job if it's not the ultimate cut in wages?

"Certainly, the Teamsters all but begged them to accept the new contract" noted The Atlantic. "Some, interviewed by CNNMoney, said that their jobs simply weren't worth saving at the pay levels Hostess was offering. If that was really the prevailing opinion, it's a pity, because a lot of people at that company did seem to believe their jobs were valuable enough to hold onto, even if at a lesser pay grade."

The Atlantic article ends with this: "As far as the unions go: You can blame them for not making enough concessions. You can blame the bakers for administering the final death blow. But you can't blame them for management's strategic incompetence, or the decision to try to run a flailing company on debt, hope, and empty calories."

Ho-Hos and Ding Dongs (Troy R. Bennett | BDN)
The Teamsters did not want this to happen, as explained in a Huffington Post article: "We did everything we could to save the company," said Joseph Ortuso, a Teamster and sales route driver from New Jersey who'd been with Hostess or its acquisitions for more than two decades. "We never gave up during bankruptcy. We fought in the marketplace to retain our business. In the end, somebody else made the decision." HuffPo continued: "They're losing [5,000] jobs," Ortuso said of the bakers' union, "but they're costing 18,900 people their jobs."

While we can't blame any union for a history of bad decisions by Hostess management we CAN blame the bakers union specifically for not making enough concessions. The Teamsters themselves say so. We CAN blame the bakers for administering the final death blow. It was premeditated, malicious and incredibly greedy.

As noted by The Atlantic, the Teamsters "all but begged them" to not strike. The Teamsters knew it would kill Hostess -- and take down thousands of jobs held by non-bakers. The bakers union did not merely shut down Hostess -- they destroyed the lives of many thousands of struggling families by forcing them out of work. It is comparable to a psychotic man shooting dead his ex-girlfriend, her new boyfriend and her entire family. If he can't have her, dammit, nobody can. And just to how pissed off he really is, he then turns the gun on himself. That'll show 'em.