While most of the American work force is dialing it down this week, getting ready for the Thanksgiving weekend and some time away from the work unit, Hostess Brands Inc. and its second largest union are haggling over important labor issues that will determine the fate of the company and its workers. The Hostess plant on W. Lincoln on Peoria's South side employs around 130 workers, with 100 of them in the bakery union. Tough getting in the holiday spirit when you don't know if you'll have a job or not.
According to the Journal Star story this morning, Hostess' sales have generally diminished over the years. Pretty much everyone I knew had a mom-packed Twinkie in their brown lunch bag. And in this area, some of the Hostess products are still going strong. Peoria-made Butternut and Butternut own decent market shares here in Peoria. Overall, the company still generates $2.5 billion in business annually.
And, without being privy to the negotiations or the current 24-hour mediation that a New York judge said must be attempted before Hostess can continue with its bankruptcy liquidation sell-off, I'm sure there's blame on both sides to be handed out. Hostess has twice filed for bankruptcy, and recently its top executives voted themselves a huge pay raise. The workers, meanwhile, wouldn't accept lowered pay, prompting the company to follow through with threats of closing its doors nationwide. There's no guarantee that, even if an agreement can be reached, all of Hostess' 33 plants will begin operation again.
The court-ordered mediation began at noon today. It's the apparent last chance for these parties to work out a compromise. Hope the talks are more productive than our Left/Right policital gridlock has been over the past couple years.