Twinkies maker calling it quits

The maker of Twinkies, Ho-Hos and Wonder Bread is calling it quits after a one-week strike by workers at Hostess Brands Inc. factories in Tulsa and nationwide.
BY KYLE ARNOLD kyle.arnold@tulsaworld.com Modified: November 16, 2012 at 8:54 pm •  Published: November 17, 2012

Hostess Brands Inc. lost $340 million in 2011 and filed for bankruptcy reorganization in January.

The bankruptcy gave the company the means to renegotiate contracts with drivers, bakers and other employees, but it couldn't reach a deal with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union.

Tulsa employee Larry Chandler said union members already were upset with the company for not funding negotiated pension contributions and for a series of wage cuts.

“There haven't been any negotiations on this,” Chandler said. “They wanted us to take the deal or they would shut everything down.”

Hostess officials say union salary and pension commitments are too much for the company.

“We deeply regret the necessity of today's decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike,” Hostess Chairman and CEO Gregory F. Rayburn said in a statement Friday morning.

A Hostess spokesman said the proposed contract with bakers would have put the company in a position to be profitable again.

With factories shut down, some are wondering about the availability of local Hostess products. Bakery outlets continued to operate after the shutdown as well as some distribution, but that likely won't continue for long.

QuikTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh said the convenience store chain had plenty of Twinkies and other snack cakes in stock, but there are worries about bread and buns made at the Tulsa bakery.

He said Wonder Bread products are used on most of their roller grill items.

“When they went into bankruptcy we had to put in place a plan in the event that production stopped,” he said. “So we've had to go find another supply to provide for us.”

In the Oklahoma City metro area, grocery stories Friday reported dwindling supplies of Twinkies and other Hostess favorites.

Hostess Brands filed a motion that could allow a formal shutdown and liquidation of the plant as early as Tuesday.



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