Amid the ruins, union leader makes his case

by Josh Sosland
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Published in this issue is the concluding second part of an interview with David B. Durkee, president of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers International Union. Taken together, the interview is among the longest ever published in this magazine and is intended to offer insights into the new leader of the B.C.T.G.M. and his perspective into the complicated mixture of events prompting a bakery worker strike in November 2012 that was followed almost immediately by the permanent shutdown of Hostess Brands, Inc.

In the interview, Mr. Durkee offers the view interactions between the management and the union were cooperative and constructive in connection with the 2004 bankruptcy and were adversarial and combative from the outset around the 2012 filing. He explained in detail why the union was determined last year not to repeat what it viewed as its key mistake in 2004 — concessions without a corresponding business plan its financial advisers would characterize as sustainable.

No matter how the liquidation of Hostess plays out, the case could be made that the decision by the B.C.T.G.M. to authorize and move ahead on the strike was questionable, putting thousands of its workers’ jobs at risk as well as those of many thousands more who had no say in the matter. Still, Mr. Durkee’s account of the events explains the union’s conclusion that ultimately nothing was going to save Hostess Brands as a corporate entity.

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