Union leader uncertain of Hostess snack cakes long-term viability

by Eric Schroeder
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KENSINGTON, MD. — Even with the hype surrounding the relaunch of Hostess Brand snack cakes this week, David B. Durkee, president of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (B.C.T.G.M.), remains unconvinced of the company’s ability to recover.

“Despite the fanfare, the long-term viability of this effort is highly uncertain,” Mr. Durkee said in a July 12 letter about the relaunch. “Rather than hire professional, experienced bakers who have produced quality snack cakes in the company’s bakeries for decades, Hostess management has chosen instead to hire primarily workers with little or no experience in the demanding wholesale snack cake baking industry.

“The B.C.T.G.M. has consistently stated our interest in working cooperatively and productively with the new owners of this company. We have always maintained that the experience, skill and professionalism of our members offer the new owners, who have no experience in the wholesale snack cake business, the best chance for long-term success in consistently putting out a quality product.”

Mr. Durkee said Kansas City-based Hostess Brands, L.L.C.’s approach is different than that taken by Portland, Ore.-based United States Bakery, which bought the former Hostess assets in the northwest. He said United States Bakery decided the most effective way to achieve a seamless re-entry into the marketplace was to reopen the former Hostess bakery in Billings, Mont., with union workers.

“The B.C.T.G.M. and U.S. Baking recently negotiated a fair and equitable collective bargaining agreement, and the bakery is up and running, producing high-quality products,” Mr. Durkee said. “In fact, the workers there are earning more in wages in the first year of the contract than they were when Hostess closed the bakery last year.”

Mr. Durkee said he blamed Hostess’ demise last year to “critical mistakes made by a series of management teams that simply did not have any meaningful experience in the wholesale bread and cake baking business.”
“To avoid the same fate, the B.C.T.G.M. encourages the two private equity firms that own Hostess Brands, L.L.C. to change their approach and work with our union and our members in a cooperative manner,” he said. “This is their best hope for long-term success.

“As the process moves forward, the B.C.T.G.M. remains committed to taking all appropriate and necessary steps to protect the rights of our members and all Hostess Brands workers.”

In total, Hostess expects to have about 1,800 employees, none of which are unionized. By comparison, approximately 79% of the old Hostess Brands employees were part of a union.

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By Mike 7/23/2013 5:30:08 AM
the union is mad because they are not getting their dues now and as a BTCGM member they do not do much for you anyway but make the companies pay more so we get less and yes I work in a bakery for over 25 years now and still and before the union came into my place I enjoyed nice raises $1.00 a year, really great benefits, profit sharing ect.. when get got in crappy benefits joined them also low raises of .35 cents a year never went pass .45 cents benefits are the worst profit sharing out the door which was nice at the end of the year but no more so the only thing the union did for us was lower our pay and benefits and they think they are doing us good HA not so they stink....all they want is their pockets lined

By Dave 7/22/2013 4:24:56 AM
Great! US Naking already swindled by the union that shut it all down in the first place! "No it wan't our fault, but look we got higher wages for US Baking than when we shut em down the first time." Yeah, watch who struggles...

By Carmen Clemens 7/18/2013 7:39:51 PM
The stupid people that say the union was the cause of the closure of IBC don't know what they are talking about.I work there for 23yrs. The company was doing great until IBC bought it. When they bought the company they already had been in bankruptcy twice before. We the workers knew we where in trouble the moment they took over. They changed the formulas, used cheap materials and sped everything up,which meant that the product was not baked right. You had to work there to know what went on. You people out there don't know a damn thing.So shut the hell up!

By Steve Rose 7/17/2013 10:02:52 PM
Mr. Durkee can go pound sand, his union caused the closure and cost 18500 jobs. I hope the new owners keep thumbing their noses at him. BCTGM union sucks!

By Non-Union all the way :) 7/17/2013 7:31:27 PM
The ego of Durkee thinking that ANY company needs to be unionized to exist! Hostess is telling you to go eff yourself. It's loud and clear, can't be any clearer moron. BTW, the former lazy theives of old Hostess were "professional bakers"??? LMAO

By william walker 7/17/2013 5:17:15 PM
Mr. Durkee who trained the workers the union or the company they worked for ? The new workers will be trained the same way that the union workers were trained.

By Rodney Stoye 7/17/2013 4:38:32 PM
In this artical the B.C.T.G.M. has consistently stated our interest in working cooperatively and productively with the new owners of this company. But they did not work with Hostess when they were IBC and that is why they had to finally sell off products.