Twinkies maker Hostess seeks to impose contract on union

Thu Sep 20, 2012 1:37pm EDT

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(Reuters) - The bankrupt maker of the Twinkies snack, Hostess Brands Inc, is seeking court approval to impose a new collective bargaining agreement on 6,500 members of a bakery union, days after the union voted overwhelmingly against the deal.

Hostess said in court documents that imposing the labor contact, which cuts wages by 8 percent and reduces benefits, is the company's last hope to avoid a going-out-of-business liquidation.

The Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco and Grain Millers International Union said on Monday that 92 percent of its members rejected the labor contract.

Hostess Chief Executive Gregory Rayburn said in a court filing the union leadership misinformed its members and told them buyers would save the company from liquidation. He also said the union used public voting to intimidate members who supported the contract.

The bakery union did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

In a statement on Monday the union said its members rejected the proposal because it was "outrageously unfair" and not because of misinformation.

Hostess received court approval to impose a labor agreement on the bakery union earlier this year, but chose to continue to negotiate. The company must again seek court approval because the latest contract contains greater concessions.

The company employs 18,000 and recently won approval from the 7,000 members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters for similar wage and benefit cuts.

Hostess, which operates around 36 bakeries, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January in Manhattan's bankruptcy court.

(Reporting By Tom Hals in Wilmington, Del.; editing by Matthew Lewis)

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