Twinkies maker may liquidate if workers don't end strike

Twinkies maker may liquidate if workers don't end strike
November 16, 2012 1:30:11 AM PST
Is it the end of the line for Twinkies? Hostess, the maker of the popular treat, says it may pull the plug and liquidate the company. There are East Bay workers who have been on strike since the weekend. So far, Hostess Brands has been able to keep store shelves stocked, however these products may disappear in a matter of hours because the company is taking the ultimate stand against one of its unions.

The picket lines have been outside Colombo Baking's Oakland plant since Saturday. Negotiations for a new contract have been underway since last spring. The parent company, Hostess Brands, says the 70 bakers, a similar number of teamsters, and 18,000 others nationwide, could be out of work soon. The company has threatened to liquidate if the bakers don't return to work Thursday evening.

Rene Castillo is the Bakers Union vice president.

Castillo: If they want to come back and sit down and bargain with us, it's up to them.
Louie: Now the Teamsters already have some sort of agreement, so they're back to work.
Castillo: Yes, they're back to work because they did accept their contract.
Louie: Does that hurt your bargaining position?
Castillo: No.

The Oakland plant bakes Colombo sourdough and sweet rolls and breads -- a storied name in Bay Area history. It also is the distribution center for the even more familiar hostess line of snacks, including Twinkies, Ho-Ho's and Ding Dongs.

The bakers said they won't accept an 8 percent pay cut and a 20 percent decrease in benefits.

"On my check, it's calculated about $680 a month out of my check. That's take-home pay," said David Morgan, the shop steward.

Morgan has worked at Colombo for 29 years. Many others are long-timers. Their hourly wages range from $19 to $22 an hour. The employees say they are prepared to find new work if the company shuts down as it is threatening to do.

Hostess tells ABC7 they will wait until morning to decide if they will liquidate based on how many employees show up for work tonight. So far people in Oakland say they're not going back to work. The company is now going through their second bankruptcy in eight years.


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