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

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.

The company closed all of its 36 factories Friday morning and filed a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to immediately liquidate Hostess Brands and sell its assets, hours after the company gave striking workers a hard deadline to come back to work.

A spokesman for Hostess Brands Inc. said the company's decision to shut down and liquidate is final, even if striking workers decided to come back.

“There is nothing to come back to,” Hostess spokesman Lance Ignon said “For all intents and purposes Hostess is done.”

Workers with Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union have been striking for a week and continued their walkout Friday over a proposal by Hostess Brands Inc. to cut salaries by 8 percent, reduce benefits and change overtime rules.

The Tulsa plant has 180 workers and produces bread and buns under the Wonder Bread line. The strike affects 18,500 employees nationwide at 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, 5,500 delivery routes and 570 bakery outlets.

The shutdown clouds the future of some of the nation's most popular and longest-produced snack food and baked goods brands, which also includes Nature's Pride and Hostess snack foods such as Sno Balls, Ding Dongs, Donettes and Hostess CupCakes.

The company blames the shutdown on the union's refusal to make wage and benefit concessions. Union employees say they have taken significant cuts and that a decade of buyouts and executive missteps led to the bankruptcy.

“We've been through these kinds of threats before every step of the way,” said Doyle Briggs, a 26-year employee at the factory. “When we rejected the contract, they threatened to shut the company down. This is just more of the same.”

Briggs said workers plan to continue striking. Many striking workers in Tulsa hope Hostess hurries to sell the brands and assets so a new buyer can bring the plant back online.