(NEW YORK) — The bankrupt assets of Hostess Brands, Inc., the company responsible for Twinkies, Ho Ho’s, Sno Balls and Ding Dongs, are being put back to work by a buyout firm. What’s not being put back to work are the former Hostess unionized employees.
The unionized workers had been on strike when the company folded late last year.
The company had imposed a contract that would cut its 19,000 workers’ wages — 15,000 of whom belonged to the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) — by 8 percent. (The Teamsters was Hostess’ largest union, followed by BCTGM.) The contract would have also cut benefits by 27 to 32 percent.
Hostess filed for Chapter 11 in January 2012. In November 2012, the company announced it would be shutting its doors for good. By that time, it had lost about $1.1 billion, largely due to bankruptcy filings.
But last month, Apollo Global Management, LLC, and Metropoulos & Co., which owns Pabst Blue Ribbon and Vlasic pickles, bought the 83-year-old company for $410 million, renaming it Hostess Brands LLC. It is planning to re-open four bakeries over the next two and a half months, in Columbus, Ga.; Emporia, Kan.; Schiller Park, Ill.; and Indianapolis. It is also contemplating a fifth in Los Angeles.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, C. Dean Metropoulos, the company’s chief executive, said that between now and September, he plans to inject $60 million in capital investments into the plants, and hopes to hire at least 1,500 workers.
But those workers won’t be unionized.
“It appears that they are discharging the union contract in bankruptcy,” said Matthew A. Kaufman, a labor attorney in Los Angeles who is not affiliated with the case.
While Metropoulos did not respond to interview requests from ABC News, he told the Journal that he does “not expect to be involved in the union going forward.”
A spokesman for the Teamsters declined to comment. But in a November 2012 statement, the Teamsters noted that the “BCTGM’s leaders are putting Teamster members in a horrible position — asking them to support a strike that will put them out of a job when they haven’t even asked all their members to go on strike.”
A spokeswoman for the BCTGM did not return phone calls to ABC News. In a March statement, BTCGM president David Durkee said, “We share the enthusiasm, energy and passions exhibited by new ownership, and believe our highly-motivated and skilled workforce will serve as indispensable partners in the seamless re-opening of factories.”
But, according to the Journal, Metropoulos and his son, Daren, felt confident that they would be able to hire non-union employees near the new plants.
“We’re trying to find the most qualified people in these local markets to come work for the company,” Daren Metropoulos told the Journal.
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Stephan Rockefeller, EastIdahoNews.com
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