I was at the grocery store over the weekend and something was conspicuously missing.
There were a grand total of 8 roles of Wonderbread on the shelf, where just weeks ago wonder was afforded a minimum of 10 to 20% of the entire bread aisle.
As I grabbed one, a voice behind me said, “It’s sad, isn’t it.”
One of my sons asked me if he could have the “Wonderbread” printed bag as a keepsake, since he grew up eating it (the bread, not the bag).
By now, most everyone has heard of the plight befallen Hostess Brands. Hostess, the makers of the aforementioned Wonderbread, Ding Dongs, Cupcakes and the venerable and chemically rich Twinkie, is closing up shop for good (it appears).
That means approximately 18,500 jobs lost adding to the already bulging unemployment roles.
Hostess had sent out notification to its employees that stated, “Despite our best efforts, certain events may occur that would require Hostess to sell all or portions of its business and/or its operations and liquidate”.
In January Hostess filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. As many companies with unionized employees, Hostess stated pension and medical benefits obligations, the overall weak economy and restrictive work rules.
This is all too typical. Companies for decades have succumb to ever-burdening union rules that choke the life out of them. GM was and is a perfect example.
Under bankruptcy rules, most companies have the right to renegotiate their union contracts, however the union involved in the Hostess restructuring, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco workers and Grain Millers international Union (BCTGM), vowed to strike if the company tried to throw out or restructure the union contracts.
But with the national strike of the BTCGM, the CEO of Hostess, Gregory Rayburn was forced to say, “We deeply regret the necessity of [today’s] decision, but we do not have the financial resources to whether an extended nationwide strike. Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member work force and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders.”
Countless other businesses will be adversely affected by the closing. Outlet and thrift stores will most likely close as well as hundreds of distribution centers and thousands of independent delivery routes. The employees of all these independent businesses will find themselves out of work.
Of course the Union thugs are blaming Hostess, claiming mismanagement. That claim may be perfectly valid but what isn’t is the Union’s claim that Hostess will take away benefits like union employee pensions.
First, that’s a lie and the union bosses know it. Hostess announced they could no longer afford pension matching. The union employees would still be free to contribute to their own pensions, but Hostess could not match that contribution any longer.
Second, in this wonderful Obama economy, I would be more concerned where my next paycheck will come from then my retirement at this point.
Speaking of union thugs, the chief thug, Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO union and far leftist, through his hat into the ring.
Trumka stated publicly, “What’s happening with Hostess Brands is a microcosm of what’s wrong with America, Bain-style Wall Street vultures make themselves rich by making America poor.” Bain Capital is back? Come on guys, Romney lost, let it go.
I don’t even know how that’s possible unless you’re maybe Bernie Madoff or George Soros. Private Equity firms, like Bain Capital, cannot and do not get rich by making the workers poor.
He continued, “Crony capitalism and consistently poor management drove Hostess into the ground, but its workers are paying the price.”
Trumka is correct about one thing. A Private Equity (PE) firm didn’t take over to try to save Hostess.
What Trumka neglected to mention is that the evil Bain-style PE firm just happened to be the Gephardt Group, founded and owned by none other than that union heartthrob and Democrat hack, Dick Gephardt.
Is Trumka trying to tell us that Dick Gephardt, darling of the unions, is now trying to ruin them? Or is it possible that all these years in the private sector has made little Dick a wee bit smarter about economics.
I feel terrible for those union members who wish they could break from the union and renegotiate with Hostess on their own, but such is the folly of collective bargaining. You constantly put your faith and your livelihood in someone else’s hands.
So let’s bid a fond farewell to an American icon and eat one last Twinkie in remembrance (although, I always preferred the cupcakes).