Friday, November 16, 2012

Somebody alert Tallahassee from Zombieland.

Apparently there will not be any Twinkies after the Zombie Apocalypse.

Hostess Brands, makers of the ubiquitous -- and world famous -- Twinkies, has announced that they're shutting down.

Why, do you ask? Why would the company that makes a product that is popularly thought of being able to survive anything, up to and including various apocalypses, holocausts, Biblical catastrophes and the occasional zombie, be shutting down?

Glad you asked.

Apparently the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union decided to get their noses out of joint and initiated a nation-wide strike that pretty much destroyed the iconic Hostess Brands.

18,000+ people (only about ~6,500 of them Union members, though) have been laid off, or will be laid off pretty damned soon -- and just before the Holiday Season, too. And because the company is up to its eyeteeth in bankruptcy court the amount of help that Hostess is going to be able to offer its (former) employees pretty much equals jack divided by squat.

Unused vacation time? Not in the budget approved by the bankruptcy court and the lenders. Go ask the Union, maybe they'll help.

Severance benefits? Sorry, try asking the union for help.

Expense claims waiting for reimbursement? Whoops. Hey, maybe the BGTWGMI Union will help with that.

Pension? Medical benefits? Other stuff? B-A-N-K-R-U-P-T-C-Y. Go ask the Union that got your job killed for help.


We here at the LawDog Files would like to congratulate the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union for demonstrating that not only do folks not learn from history, but they are obviously completely unable to learn from SIMPLE BLOODY NURSERY TALES.

*sigh*

In a civilised country, the BCTWGMI Union Officers would be apologising on national TeeVee before retreating to a back room with a pen, a sheet of paper and one round; and leaving their successors to make things right.

Unfortunately, I foresee a whole bunch of sniveling done by people who should be angry, much posturing by people who should be legally destroying the BCTMGMI Union, and pompous denials by Union Officers.

Pfagh, on the lot of them.

LawDog

36 comments:

pdwalker said...

The problem is, the union management will have their golden parachutes from the union, so they will live the high life. They won't feel the pain at all.

the workers, those that cannot find jobs, will become dependent on the government and will have to vote for more free stuff just to stay in the game.

Lose, lose, lose.

Library-Gryffon said...

Back when we lived in Ireland, in the late '70s and early '80s I watched the unions there pull this sort of stunt several times.

You would think that after a while, they'd actually take the company's offer to go over the books and try to find the money themselves seriously, and then listen to their own accountants when they tell them, that yes, indeed, there is NO money.

Instead, they continue to strike, so the company says fine, fills the current orders, and closes up shop permanently. Everyone ends up on the dole, which was never as good as the offer the company was making.

I guess they think the ghost of Jimmy Hoffa will rise from it's grave and somehow force the company to stay open and find the monies from Obama's magic stash?

Library-Gryffon said...

Hah, just what I get for not going to my news sites before commenting. Apparently the Teamsters actually did look at the books, agreed with the company, were crossing the picket lines, and tried to get the Bakers to get with the program.

It's kind of a pleasant shock to see a union using enlightened self interest.

Samantha Joy said...

The strike started last week.

Hostess filed for bankruptcy for the second time almost a year ago (Jan '11) and that's after barely emerging from their most recent bankruptcy in '04 (they didn't finish paying off those debts to get out of bankruptcy court until sometime in '09.)

Strikes me that it's a little bit *disingenuous* to blame all their financial troubles on the strike. This is a company that's been on the verge of going under for a decade, and as much as they might like to point the finger at the eeeebil unions, it's been mismanaged for a long time.

And if I were one of their workers, I might also fuss about the same executives who ran the company into a bankruptcy getting raises of up to 80% the year it came out of a 5 year stint in bankruptcy court.

The strike may have been the straw that broke the camel's back, but to put the sole blame on the unions is just dishonest. The company has teetering on the edge for a long time.

(I read a lot about a whole lot of companies when I was deciding where to put my money during the stock market crash. Hostess didn't make the cut.)

Jeff Wood said...

Working in an industrial bakery is hard: the work is hot, repetitive, high-pressure drudgery.

Running an industrial bakery is also hard: the profit margins are tight, costs and quality have to be kept under tight control; suppliers, bankers and creditors kept at bay sometimes when cash is short.

It is particularly hard just now, I would guess, and as Samantha remarks, this company Hostess were already on the edge.

So what to the Union do?

We used to get this a lot in Britain. Not much now, at least in private business, because the industries where we got it most went bust.

Tango said...

Unions are government of a different form. They offer nothing. They produce no product. They cost money for no gain. There used to be a need for them when people had arms getting cut off in industrial accidents. Today, they do nothing. I agree 100%, LawDog.

Old NFO said...

Got what they deserved, sadly they took a LOT of people who DIDN'T deserve it down with em...

Scott said...

You know, when the Teamsters are telling you that there ain't no more blood in this turnip, it is probably time to give up.

Shame that the Bakers Union bosses don't have to pay out for crap like this...

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time, a farmer was crossing his lands, and found a viper freezing in the snow. Taking pity on the poor creature, he put it inside his coat to warm it. Revived again, the viper bit the farmer, who in dying asked the snake "Why? I tried to save your life. Now we'll both die here out in the freezing cold."

"I can't help it," said the snake. "It's in my nature."

-Aesop

Gopher said...

Internet rumors abound(for what it's worth) that Obama will bail out their pension funds and give them 99 weeks at 97% pay.

It's the internet. YMMV

Anonymous said...

According to the BBC, the biggest unsecured creditor is the Baker's union pension fund. They are owed about 940 million by Hostess.

Brilliant

Bergman said...

"a pen, a sheet of paper and one round"

The above list being slightly useless without adding a fourth item, a firearm.

But given the general ineptitude evident in a union that got over 6000 of their members laid off for Christmas, they'd probably forget the necessary tool and have to do the deed with just the round.

Anonymous said...

Lawdog,

I have a problem that maybe you can help me with.

Mine is that I was just arrested on PC Disorderly Conduct: Alcohol.

What gets me is How fast they showed up in multiple cars...(I am hated by the methheads) and how polite the police were (nods).
What I wonder..is what this charge means?
Is it Drunk in public or is this a rotifer?
I could call a lawyer..but ...
really?
drunk in public?
going home with beer?
well..
any advice would be apprecieted.

leaperman
All Saint without, all Devil within.

Da Curly Wolf said...

LD...The Teamsters geeked to the same deal as they company was asking the Bakers union to geek to...before the old contract was even up. The teamsters told them take the damn deal or we'll all be out of work. As you can see...the Bakers union didn't listen...*facepalm*

MSgt B said...

No, no.

You've got it all wrong.

It was the evil, greedy corporation that ran the company into the ground and bankrupted it. Those poor downtrodden union people were just trying to do their best to save the workers.

It's true. I saw it on TeeWee.

Crucis said...

And it was only ONE of the two unions who went on strike. The other, the Teamsters, actually crossed the picket lines.

I listened to some audio of the strikers. They expect someone to come in and buy the bakeries and they'll all go back to work. Stupid. If that happened, why do they think the new owners would hire a batch of troublemakers? Some of those bakeries are in Right-To-Work states.

Stupidity is rampant.

Mama Kestrel said...

There's plenty of stupid to go around. As another reader pointed out, Hostess has been in trouble for a decade, and gave their execs 80% raises at the same time they were asking employees to take drastic cuts. That's obscene. It was the bankruptcy court trustees, going over the books, who discovered the raises, too; it's not like they were voluntarily disclosed. I can see where the union negotiators would think the company wasn't acting in good faith and push back. They may have been wrong; I'm haven't read all the supporting documentation (nor will I; I have better uses for my time), but the one thing that's clear is that blaming the whole on any one factor or party is a huge over-simplification.

Anonymous said...

On the personal responsibility side of things, anyone who relies on a third party (union, employer, or government) to secure their pension is setting themselves up for failure.

Mike said...

Mama Kestrel said...

There's plenty of stupid to go around. As another reader pointed out, Hostess has been in trouble for a decade, and gave their execs 80% raises at the same time they were asking employees to take drastic cuts. That's obscene. It was the bankruptcy court trustees, going over the books, who discovered the raises, too; it's not like they were voluntarily disclosed.


Actually, it was a conversion of performance bonuses to salary. According to one account I read, it was *required* by the bankruptcy court. Additionally, the CEO was taking a ONE DOLLAR salary and had been since the 2004 bankruptcy.

They may have been wrong; I'm haven't read all the supporting documentation (nor will I; I have better uses for my time),

So you conveniently stopped with evidence that supported your view?

Anonymous said...

Now, now.

If someone wants to believe that the people who can run a multimillion dollar enterprise are financially stupider than people who need a union's help to hold down a job baking Twinkies, well, it's a semi-free country.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't freeze the water, open an ice show, and teach the horse to drive the Zamboni between performances.

robert martin said...

somebody needs to put up the Grok Sign and see what PJs folks know about this.

gee there might be stale twinkies now.

Grayson said...

There's gonna be some particularly interesting levels of violence if the hippies and the stoners start firebombing union offices....



Come to think of it, how many twinkies is a pound of cannibus really worth, now?

Cheers!

Will said...

Back in '75-76, my girlfriend's brother got a job working at a union controlled forklift factory in Philly. You had to know someone in the union to get a job there. Entry level job was sweeping the machineshop floor at night, for $22/hr !!! Japanese brands put them out of business due to costs, just as they did in the automobile field.

In the early 80's, I had a female co-worker who was just marking time until the local auto plant re-opened. (near San Jose, CA) She regaled us with tales of how they would sabotage the vehicles they were building, due to ongoing disputes with company management. (fish behind door panels, etc)

Both the Ford and GM plant closed within a couple years. Eventually the Ford plant was turned into a mall.

The GM plant was turned over to Toyota, in a joint production deal (NUMMI). The Japanese told the GM union people they would look at the prior workers, but would make no promises as to hiring. Out of about 3000+, they hired less than 800, IIRC.

A roommate who was an engineer there, told me they were hiring assembly workers based on attitude, not experience. That they could teach almost anyone how to do the job, providing they had the correct attitude. NUMMI lasted 25yrs, and I don't recall labor problems there.

IIRC, he said there was only 7 layers of management, from the lowest level floor supervisor to the CEO in Japan. GM had over 30!

It would be difficult for me to lower my opinion of labor unions and union workers. They outlived their usefulness here probably 80 yrs ago.

Mama Kestrel said...

Mike - All I was really trying to point out was that blaming any one group was probably overly simplistic. It may be primarily the Union's fault. It may be the Martian's fault, for all I can determine. I don't know. I haven't read the primary sources - the financial statements and the thousands of pages of pleadings filed with the bankruptcy court. All I know is what I see in the news, and I tend to take any news report with a small Siberian salt mine. Your mileage may vary.

Anonymous said...

Unions are the last refuge of the incompetent and the lazy. Public sector unions should be illegal.

Chas Clifton said...

I heard on the news last night that some of those brands might be sold to other companies, so Twinkies addicts won't be left dying in the cold. ;)

Anonymous said...

Nope.
Only the bloodsucking union parasites will.

As Mr. Burns would say: "Eeeexcellent!"

Anonymous said...

There was a time and a place for unions, and that time and place is long gone. Now they offer nothing and are just another greedy, grasping hand in your cookie jar. I just don't understand the blind reliance in and trust of unions. No more cooked organization has ever existed, except maybe la cosa nostra itself...

Rick Street said...

Happy Thanksgiving

Anonymous said...

Riiight.

Nothing says "we bad" like disemploying 18000+ people (including ~6500 of your own) to prove your point. When they're all on the breadline, you win. Right?

Goatroper

Ms. said...

gee there might be stale twinkies now
Heresy. Those things never die.

some of those brands might be sold to other companies
I think the owners might form a new company, buy the brand names & recipes from Hostess, hire non-union workers, and start making Twinkies (et. al.) again.

Anonymous said...

I worked for Dolly Madison back in the early 90s & my Mother in Law retired from there a few years ago. Please believe me when I say there's plenty of blame to go around. You would be amazed to hear some of the story's about the upper management both finance wise & intelligence wise. I could never understand why the unions didn't force an accounting years ago while there was a chance of saving those "lost" pensions. I can only assume that they waited so long because they were getting their share (no proof). Unfortunately many people have been raised to believe that the union knows best & so they blindly trust something that in my eyes at least has evolved into a parasite that rivals D.C.

Anonymous said...

ooops, I forgot to sign my above comment about working for Dolly Madison. (sorry)

Wamba

Anonymous said...

Sorry dudes. As much fun as it is to bash the union, and make fun of twinkies themselves... 

The equity company that took over in 2009 looted the company, gave themselves huge raises and fees for essentially no improvement to the company, then used the union as an excuse to shut it down and loot the company of the only thing left of any value- the product names which they are now expected to sell for about 2.5 BILLION.

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/13013-a-death-in-the-family-and-the-question-is-whodunit

Mitt Romney approves!

Anonymous said...

FWIW, the Teamsters carry a fair bit of blame for this, perhaps more than the bakers. If it costs twice as much to deliver the goods because of added union bodies whose presence is stipulated in the contract, you can't compete very well at all.

My grandfather was a fervent union man, and in his day the unions were necessary. Today, they're the problem. Welcome to life's pendulum.

Mike Van Pelt said...

Check out what the union bosses are making. I bet none of them take a pay cut to help out any of the 18,000 people they put out of work, or even the 6,500 of their own union members that they put out of work.

http://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.com/2012/11/about-hostess-brands-bankruptcy.html