* Union votes to authorize strike pending court ruling
* May strike if court OKs Hostess' "unfair" labor proposals
* Hostess in Chap. 11 bankruptcy, burdened by labor costs
By Nick Brown
Feb 13 About 7,500 union workers at
Hostess Brands Inc, the makers of Twinkies and Wonder Bread, may
strike if a U.S. bankruptcy judge grants the company's bid to
slash commitments to union employees, the Teamsters Union said
The Teamsters said in a statement its members voted by a
margin of 9-to-1 to authorize the strike if Hostess' "unfair"
proposal is granted by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain in
White Plains, New York.
A Hostess Brands spokesman could not immediately be reached
Hostess submitted the request on Jan. 25, two weeks after
filing its second bankruptcy since 2004. The company said a
successful reorganization will require it to withdraw from
multiemployer pension plans, bring down its cost of long-term
worker benefits, and alter the terms of its collective
The matter is set for a hearing on March 5.
"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," Dennis Raymond, director of the union's
bakery and laundry conference, said in the statement.
Raymond said unionized employees have made concessions
before, only to see the company remain stagnant.
One other union piped up in similar fashion on Monday. The
Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers
International Union, which has about 6,000 members at Hostess,
said in court papers it compromised with the company during its
last trip through bankruptcy, which lasted from 2004 to 2009.
Hostess "frittered away the value of the BCTGM's concessions
through a series of wasteful business decisions," ultimately
landing it back in bankruptcy court, the union said.
Hostess, founded in 1930, has about $860 million in debt. It
operates around 36 bakeries and employs about 19,000 people, a
majority of whom are members of 12 unions.
While a strike could be detrimental to the company, Hostess
said the consequences of keeping its current labor cost
structure are just as severe.
"Without relief from their existing CBAs and benefit
obligations, there is a substantial likelihood that
will rapidly expend all available cash," it said in court
papers. "With no other viable alternative, would be
forced to liquidate."
The case is In re Hostess Brands Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court,
Southern District of New York, No. 12-22052.