IRVING, TEXAS — The specter of widespread and potentially devastating strike actions by workers at Hostess Brands, Inc. loomed menacingly in the wake of an authorization by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union.
The union action came three weeks after Judge Robert Drain approved a Hostess Brands petition to impose a cost cutting collective bargaining agreement on the bakers, including unions whose members had rejected the plan.
Workers of the B.C.T.G.M. in September resoundingly rejected the final proposal of Hostess management, but the judge ruled union leadership had misled workers to believe there would be an alternative buyer for the company or most of its baking facilities if the proposal was declined.
In a memorandum from Frank Hurt, president of the B.C.T.G.M., dated Oct. 25, officers of Hostess Brands locals were advised that “strike action by all local unions representing workers at Hostess Brands facilities whose contract have been terminated or have had the company’s final offer imposed is hereby deemed as sanctioned and authorized by the international union.”
The memorandum also was signed by David B. Durkee, international secretary-treasurer of the union.
“This sanctioning and authorization includes honoring a picket line established by striking members of a different B.C.T.G.M. local union,” the memo said.
A source at a Hostess plant said workers were told Oct. 31 by the company to empty their lockers in preparation for a possible strike.
A spokesperson from the company offered a clarifying response.
“No one has been told to clean out their lockers, but all bakery employees have been reminded that access to the plants will be limited in the case of a strike,” said Erik Halvorson, the spokesperson. “We’ve recommended that they not store personal belongings overnight, in case a strike does take place.”
Mr. Halvorson said Hostess would not be able to survive a sustained strike.
“A significant strike would result in a rapid wind down of the company,” he said.
Frank Hurt and David Durkee, B.C.T.G.M.