Hostess Brands has sought authorization from the bankruptcy courts to liquidate its bakery business and wipe out the jobs and pensions of 18,500 workers. The 82-year-old company, maker of the well-known brands Wonder Bread and Twinkies, submitted plans last week to close 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes and 570 bakery outlet stores throughout the United States.
Company executives blamed their move on a week-long strike by 5,600 members of one of the largest unions at the company, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM). Management gave strikers until November 15 to accept demands for deep wage and benefit cuts and further plant closings—or face liquidation.
But the workers—who are passing through their second company bankruptcy in a decade—said enough was enough. A typical worker saw his pay cut from $48,000 to $34,000, or $16.12 an hour, after the company’s first trip through bankruptcy in 2004.