Teamsters in favor of Hostess strike if benefits cut

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — The International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union on Feb. 13 said more than 90% of its members working at Hostess Brands, Inc. have voted to authorize a strike if Hostess is granted its motion to cut the union’s health care and pension benefits as part of the bankruptcy process.

Local unions representing more than 7,500 Hostess employees held strike authorization votes during the past 10 days. A majority of the members participated in the overwhelming strike vote.

“This vote shows that, while our Hostess members are willing to take significant steps to save the company, they can only go so far,” said Dennis Raymond, director of the Teamsters Bakery and Laundry Conference. “Twice before, they have made sacrifices to help this company with no progress to show for it. They need to see their sacrifices matched by other key stakeholders and they need protections to make sure their sacrifices are not made in vain again due to mismanagement. While we remain committed to finding a solution to save the company, it won’t be done solely on the backs of our members and Hostess employees.”

Ken Hall, vice-president of Teamsters International, added, “The Teamsters Union is committed to vigorously defending its position against the 1113 motion to impose unfair employment terms that the company filed at the outset of the bankruptcy process. The strike authorization should send a loud and clear message about our determination, and we will be equally determined in defending our case before the court.”

A hearing on the motion is scheduled to begin March 5, and the judge has 30 days to issue a ruling.

Hostess, which had no comment on the union’s action, has stated in court filings that its struggles largely are related to its heavy obligations to union workers and retirees. The Irving, Texas-based company also has said that it has not obtained “any substantial relief” from its union obligations in its earlier bankruptcy reorganization.

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