Tough to see any stakeholder gain in Hostess strike

by Josh Sosland
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As the drama over the disposition of Hostess Brands, Inc. approaches its climax, the mounting signs that the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers International Union may declare a strike has made a fragile situation even more fraught with peril. Even if the bakers decide against a walkout, it is very much an open question in the minds of many industry observers whether Hostess will survive given the extraordinary damage it has sustained over the past decade.

A Hostess representative has said a protracted strike would only result in a “rapid wind down of the company,” and the company’s recently released financial data certainly support that analysis. B.C.T.G.M. representatives have not responded to interview requests, and it is tough to imagine what positives for the company’s workers could be expected to result from a strike.

Major concessions by management would lock Hostess into bankruptcy, unable to move forward with a viable cost structure and necessitating liquidation. Many baking plants would be closed, but perhaps the union leadership believes that remaining liquidated plants would be bought by companies willing to offer compensation packages more attractive than described in the Hostess reorganization plan.

Wrenching stories have been told by Hostess workers who were employed at the company longer than 20 years, only to lose their job or have benefits cut back substantially. In threatening a strike, the B.C.T.G.M. appears to be playing high stakes roulette with a pool of employees who already have experienced too much hardship.

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