Friday, November 16, 2012

No more Twinkies: Labor union destroys Hostess

I hope the idiots in the photo on the right are happy.  Those are some of the members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union who went on strike against their employer: Hostess Brands, Inc.

The union has about 5,000 people working at Hostess. As of this morning, their months-long strike has put themselves and thirteen thousand others out of work.

The big news at the time of this writing is Hostess going out of business and liquidating its assets. The company could no longer afford to be in business as a result of the strike. More than 18,500 people are now unemployed.

What a colossal committing of ass-hattery.

But hey, at least the employees responsible can rely on the union bosses to back them up. Not to mention getting government unemployment checks. All out of spite for a measly 2% decrease in pension that Hostess put on the bargaining table. Yeah, win the fight for a tiny amount of pension but put nearly 20,000 people out of work and destroy a favorite snack food for everyone.

Like they say on the basketball court: "Smooth move Ex-lax!"

Labor unions are worse than useless. If this doesn't demonstrate that, I don't know what possibly could.

Better stock up on your favorite Hostess-brand goodies, folks...

...'cuz they're about to be gone. Forever.

(I can't imagine any other company right now wanting to buy out Hostess and putting their goodies back into production: it'd cost too much to relocate factories to right-to-work states, and would anyone in their right mind in this economic environment want to go through the hassle anyway?)

It is the end of an era, my friends. A darn shame too, seeing as how Hostess snacks helped to end the reign of terror of so many supervillains back in the day.

Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Ho-Hos, Fruit Pies, Wonder Bread: get 'em now, friends and neighbors. Their value will be greater than gold as barter items on the underground market when the sh-t hits the fan. Probably sooner than later.

But if I were the CEO of Hostess, I wouldn't have put out a press release or called a news conference about what has been done to his company.

This is how I would have delivered the message...

14 comments:

Nicole said...

Hostess won't close. President Thompson is consulting with Wesley Mouch at this time!

Willie T said...

Weird Al Yankovic will starve without his Twinkie wiener sandwiches!!!!!!!!!!

Solomon Grundy of the Great Dismal Swamp said...

Al Powell: "You alright, Roy?"

John McClane: "Just firing down a thousand year old Twinkie. What do they put in these things anyway?"

Al Powell: "Sugar enriched flour, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, polysorbate 60 and yellow dye #5. Everything a growin' boy needs."

Solomon Grundy of the Great Dismal Swamp said...

"I'm leaving it as I found it. Take over. It's yours."

You ought to have had the Hostess factory burning down like what Ellis Wyatt did to his oil field.

Chris Knight said...

I played around with flames/fire/explosions on a couple of factory pics but nothing really "worked". But that grayscale one unembellished, with the quote also in black and white, looked *perfect*.

And a factory given up on and simply left empty by its owners out of frustration with unions and taxes and government is just an effective symbol as what Wyatt did in Atlas Shrugged.

Speaking of which, one of the funnier bits to come out of this situation that I've seen is a spoof cover of Atlas Shrugged with the statue holding up a cupcake. The title reads "Hostess Shrugged".

Anonymous said...

Hostess has filed two bankruptcies and been sold to equity firms 3 times in the last ten years. The executives received 80 percent raises last year. The union was a minor part of the closing. That doesn't fit your politics though, does it.

Chris Knight said...

"Hostess has filed two bankruptcies and been sold to equity firms 3 times in the last ten years. The executives received 80 percent raises last year. The union was a minor part of the closing."

Ehhhh, a "minor" part you say, huh?

No business can operate without production of something. Production that leads to profit in the marketplace. Production requires employees. The union employees stopped producing. Thus following logic, the business could no longer operate. In Hostess' case there was not just reduced profit, there was NO profit and expenditures overcame income. When businesses cannot make money, they eventually run out of what money they do have. When THAT money runs out, the businesses grind to a halt and cease to be a business. And then the employees have no money because they're out of a job.

That doesn't fit with your contradictory view of reality though, does it.

marc said...

You'd think that hostess would do what government does and continue spending money they don't have. Apparently they're just not nearly as smart as those who run the government.

Chris Knight said...

Hey Marc,

I guess Hostess would have gotten a government bailout like General Motors, but Hostess wasn't "too big to fail" enough.

Then again, who the hell wants to eat a government-baked Twinkie?

Paul G. said...

I doubt the Twinkie is gone forever. Hostess the company is almost certainly finished but the Hostess name and its product lines are probably popular and profitable enough that someone will buy them in the bankruptcy proceedings. I would expect the foods will be back on the shelves sooner or later, perhaps tasting not quite the same, no doubt manufactured somewhere with less union activity. That's little comfort to the people out of a job a month before Christmas.

As to the executive pay raises, I know nothing about the particulars here but you must consider context. Any company that has recently gone through bankruptcy is going to be hard pressed to keep good executives since they typically have the most opportunities to go somewhere else. The last thing you want in this situation is have to hire a new management team. Well, unless they are incompetent, which is quite possible, though failing companies often have good people working under difficult conditions not of their doing. Or there may be some other quirk going on. For example, when it was reported that some of the bailed out Wall Street firms were giving bonuses there was an uproar, myself included. Later, I ended up on a flight next to someone who had friends who worked for some of those companies. We think of a bonus as a reward added onto the main salary. As she explained it to me, some Wall Street jobs offer a nominal or no salary and the “bonus” is the majority (or all) of their income. No bonus, don’t eat. I’m not saying that is what has happened here – it is quite possible that this was greed – but in itself the 80% executive pay raise fact doesn’t tell me anything about anything.

With all that said, when a union strike causes everyone to lose their jobs, that is a failure. Sometimes failure is unavoidable, but it is certainly nothing to be proud. Sad day.

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Anonymous said...

Paul G,

Good comments and you make some valid points. We also don't know if the Bakers union folks could live on the reduced wages they were offered. They were facing cuts in salary, health insurance, and pensions far beyond the 2% Chris reported in his blog. They might have felt they didn't have anything to lose. The rest of the unions involved had accepted the offers so it's not just an evil union story. And that's the problem I have with "news" on this blog, lots of heros and villains .... not much accuracy. I'm no big union fan but this company was going down in spite of their labor problems. No need to make it into a political story for either side.

Paul G. said...

Point well taken. Perhaps Hostess was doomed. Not knowing the particulars it is hard for me to say. Bad management? Maybe. Demanding unions? Maybe. Bad luck? Maybe. Demanding unions combined with bad management and bad luck? Wouldn't be the first time for that. See Chrysler.

With that said, when the union members are interviewed and are proud of what they done and the local Democratic politicians drop by to lend their support, it does tend to support a certain interpretation. It comes across very much as a "cut off the nose to spite the face" moment. Ideally, the way business should work is everyone prospers: owners, management, labor, others. I sense that wasn't the case here. It destroyed them. Again, sad.

Paul G. said...

Found a good article on the Hostess situation. Along with bad unions, bad management, and bad luck, you can also add some bad special interest government regulation to the list. It was a true group effort.

http://reason.com/blog/2012/11/19/who-killed-hostess

Of note, it appears that the executive raises were proposed but not actually implemented, and the union that went on strike was encouraged not to by the Teamsters of all people.