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Hostess Twinkies
It could survive a nuclear war...but not vulture capitalism
As a little boy in fourth or fifth grade I had a crush on a little girl. We used to eat lunch together every day and every single day I would try to trade something out of my lunch for the Twinkie that her mother packed in her lunch. I was disappointed every time as she never traded me for one of those golden cream filled cakes. (Why she did not want my bologna and ketchup with crushed Fritos sandwich is beyond me.) To this day I still kid her about not giving up those Twinkies.

When I met my first drill sergeant in the Army one of the very first things he screamed at me was that I "wasn’t (expletive deleted) at home sittin' on the (expletive deleted) couch eatin' (expletive deleted) Twinkies and drinkin' (expletive deleted) Mountain Dew." How I wanted the comfort of a (expletive deleted) Twinkie right at that moment.

Today it has been announced that Hostess along with Wonder Bread is going out of business. Of course the right-wingers are foaming at the mouth claiming that it is the unions' fault what with their ridiculous demands of fair compensation for work given to the company. Of course none of those on the right will acknowledge the CEO at Hostess got a 300 percent raise from $750,000 to $2,250,000. Now, I find $750,000 to be an outrageous amount of money for anyone to make ... $2.2 million is beyond outrageous and a 300 percent raise is well into the territory of obscene greed.

The average employee salary for Hostess employees is approximately $43,000 a year. The CEO makes $2.2 million, and management is asking for further wage and benefits concession, seriously? Hostess will live on—the brands of Hostess, Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Ho-Hos, Wonder Bread, etc., are too valuable to be left to die. The brands and bakeries will be sold and some other vulture capital firm will provide financing and new non-union employees will be hired. My guess is that the new non-union employees will make less in pay and benefits than the average union wage of today.

To place the blame on the backs of the very people who built Hostess is wrong. It was the union bakers, the union line workers, the union route drivers that made Hostess into what it was. Not some CEO sitting behind a desk pulling in more money in one year than I will earn in a lifetime. It is also certainly not some vulture capitalist piling debt onto the company while sucking the profit out like a five year old sucks the cream filling out of a Twinkie. The unions didn’t kill Hostess ... it was greed that killed Hostess.

Today, I will go to the grocery store and purchase my last box of union-made Twinkies (possibly the first one I have purchased in twenty years). I will share them with my son and tell him stories of Twinkie the kid, how a little girl would not share her Twinkies with me and what my drill sergeant thought of them.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 03:00 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Admit it. Your drill sargeant only said those (15+ / 0-)

    things because he was concerned about your health and wanted to improve your vocabulary.  Seriously, thanks for this diary.  I don't know if unions will ever be a force again, but I know from personal experience in my long ago that the UAW once took care of me and that the UAW didn't ruin the American auto industry.  The workers didn't design crap and neglect quality control.  That was below our pay grade.  I will conclude by saying that the apparent walkouts by Walmart workers I read about today was a bright spot.

    Any Jackass can kick down a barn. It takes a carpenter to build one. - Sam Rayburn

    by Old Gray Dog on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 03:08:47 PM PST

    •  As an old UAW member (5+ / 0-)

      I agree with you Old Gray Dog. And Mark, I think I'll go and buy some Union Made Hostess cupcakes and Twinkies also.

      "If fighting for a more equal and equitable distribution of the wealth of this country is socialistic, I stand guilty of being a socialist." Walter Reuther

      by fugwb on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 03:17:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I just saw the following (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mark E Andersen, myboo, Mannie, WakeUpNeo

      and can't help adding it.   In a weird sort of way it expresses how I feel about the GOP's claims that the unions took out Hostess.  "Really, seriously, you're not asking me about Hostess Twinkies, are you? ... I'm on Saturday Night Live enough. ... This is a setup! You people are the worst! I am not answering questions on Twinkies. No, no, no, no, no, no. It's bad that I even said the word 'Twinkie' from behind this microphone."
      —New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, responding to a question on the bankruptcy of Hostess

      Any Jackass can kick down a barn. It takes a carpenter to build one. - Sam Rayburn

      by Old Gray Dog on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 03:19:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Unions did in fact kill Detroit auto industry (0+ / 0-)

      Did you know union contracts with automakers weigh more than 22 pounds.  For a photo of  Ford's 2,215 page, 2007 Contract with the UAW in 5 volumes go here.  

      Most of it is concerned with trivial nonsense such as improvements to the dental plan and how many day's notice the Union needs in case of a plant closing, etc.. What's missing of course, is a commitment to improve American automobiles.

  •  What if the unions were to blame? (6+ / 0-)

    What if the unions' demands for a good wage and good benefits forced the company to go under? If a business cannot provide good jobs then it needs to change its model or go out of business. America needs to get used to the idea that working people deserve good wages and good benefits. Period. End of story. Problem solved. You're welcome.

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 03:15:27 PM PST

  •  What killed Hostess is... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    magnetics, gooderservice, Mannie, debedb

    The chemical crap they peddled as food...

    Not only can a small group of dedicated people change the world, its the only thing that ever has.

    by fToRrEeEsSt on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 03:19:37 PM PST

  •  according to my stable of RW FB acquaintances... (6+ / 0-)

    it wasn't the unions... IT WAS OBAMA!

    You really can't argue with that. In theory, it should be easy, but the people saying that stuff don't want to believe otherwise.

  •  Didn't a Bain-like firm buy them? (8+ / 0-)

    Isn't this exactly the kind of thing Romney was criticized for during his days at Bain?  "A private equity company, Ripplewood Holdings, paid about $130 million dollars to take Hostess private" says the Atlantic.  I'm sure that private equity firm was really concerned about the long term growth of Hostess.

  •  Executives making an average of 51 times (11+ / 0-)

    more than the average employee. There's nothing wrong with this picture, especially if one inhabits the RW entertainment and fantasy bubble.

    American workers owe a considerable debt to unions. Without unions there would be no 8 hour workdays, no weekends, no workplace safety regulations, no minimum wage and no child labor laws. Corporate America wants to return to the days of the Guilded Age and the robber barons and they have suckered a lot of workers to go along for the ride.

    The loudest cries for war come from those who have never seen one.

    by MadGeorgiaDem on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 03:41:56 PM PST

  •  two of my fb "friends" came up with this (5+ / 0-)

    unions killed hostess crap. one was a picture of a headstone:

    Hostess Brands
    An American Institution
    Killed By Union Thuggery
    the other is a little twinkie-sized open casket of a twinkie with:
    So Hostess is going out of business and is going to layoff 18,500 workers because the Union wanted bigger pensions and higher pay... Sorry but I don't get these Union members, they would rather have no job at all... Now they don't get to eat now...or later.
    printed below. I jumped on both of them. this is what i wrote to the casket example:
    once again, hostess brands is NOT going out of business due to union members. vulture capitalists were taking hostess out of business long before union members refused to give them MORE concessions. research it. RESEARCH IT!!! this can not be blamed on bakers union members. RESEARCH IT!
    i couldn't help myself.
  •  the teamsters are now right wingers? (0+ / 0-)

    •  Where did I say anything about the Teamsters? n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Glen The Plumber

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - My late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 04:51:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Teamsters... (0+ / 0-)

        ...approved virtually the same contract the the bakers rejected.  Oops...
        ....also, it might be relevant to include the fact that the CEO you reference many times as the target of your ire has not been at the company for some time....

        •  Ahhh...the anti-union trolls are out n/t (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mungley, Glen The Plumber

          "Republicans only care about the rich" - My late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

          by Mark E Andersen on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 05:07:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          • intelligent response... (0+ / 0-)
            •  Really? That is all you have? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Glen The Plumber, nomandates

              You will blame the unions no matter what. Did the Teamsters accept a deal, yes, did the fact that UCFW did not kill Hostess? cannot expect the workers who actually built the company to take pay cut after pay cut while the profits are sucked out of the company and CEOs take 300% raises.

              By your logic we should all be working for minimum wage and just be happy we have jobs. Which is exactly what corporate America wants. A bunch of sheep who will do whatever it takes to stay employed. Feel free to bash unions...I am willing to bet you will be the first one to wonder where they are when they are gone and worker protections go away.

              "Republicans only care about the rich" - My late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

              by Mark E Andersen on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 05:56:48 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  The baker's union took a 30% cut (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Liberal Mole

          a couple of years ago.

          They also had their pension - into which they each paid $3/hr out of their own pockets -  stolen by management (the funds were "borrowed," after which management went to court to get the "borrowed" funds declared un-payable).

          At the same time, it was entirely clear that management would shutter the company NO MATTER WHAT the union agreed to, since there was no way that tiny concession could have any impact whatsoever on the company's ability to meet its debt payments - $1.2 Billion in debt is an impossibly heavy burden in an industry with margins as slim as the snack food industry.

          So the union told them to stuff it.

          Why was the company seeking this concession when it planned to shut down anyway?  Because management and the investors have preferred shares. The payroll counts as a liability when the company is liquidated, and would cut the value of those shares when the assets are sold.

          Preferred shareholders get paid first from the proceeds of the liquidation - before any other debtor is paid. They wanted to do everything in their power to take every last possible penny for themselves - by robbing the employees of another 30% of their pay.

          Well, the employees refused to be robbed. Good for them.

          •  You are just wrong... (0+ / 0-)
            Preferred shareholders get paid first from the proceeds of the liquidation - before any other debtor is paid.
            In a bankruptcy the order of payment is:
            DIP provider
            Secured Creditors
            Unsecured Creditors

            There is no way...full stop...that the preferred shareholders get paid before creditors.

            As an aside, it was hugely controversial when in the auto bailout the unsecured pension obligations were put ahead of the secured creditors.

            But ahead of the equity...never.

  •  The word is "lie," not myth. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sura 109, mungley

    A myth is a false belief that arises innocently and organically.  A lie is something people say because they have an interest in promoting the falsehood.  There are few myths in the Republican Party, but a hell of a lot of lies.

    "They fear this man. They know he will see farther than they, and he will bind them with ancient logics." -The stoner guy in The Cabin in the Woods

    by Troubadour on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 04:55:17 PM PST

  •  I just emailed this story to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    My brain damaged right-wing nut job brother in law.

    After arguing about this very issue.

    Yes, he is seriously brain damaged (not hyperbole, actual), and a total RWNJ.

    He is so far off the deep end, he thinks the FEMA concentration camps are real and is HUGE in signing the petetion to break away from the USA.

    Of course he is located in RWNJ central...rural Missouri

    BTW as far off the deep end he is even HE voted AGAINST Akin

    Never underestimate stupid. Stupid is how reTHUGlicans win!

    by Mannie on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 06:29:12 PM PST

  •  The union may be partially to blame (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jon Says

    Hostess lost $341 million last year.  With that level of loss, I'm sure Hostess could have gotten rid of all of its highly paid executives, and still be losing money.

    The latest news indicates they really basically run out of money, and the lenders that were lending them money to work through bankruptcy wouldn't lend any more.

    It's very clearly the case that the main reason Hostess was so damaged was poor management decisions over the last decade.  Hostess had 6 CEO's over the last 10 years - collectively they made a series of poor decisions that are the real reason Hostess died.

    But if it really was the case that there wasn't any more money, what was Hostess to do?  If you don't have the money, and you can't borrow the money, what solution is there if someone wants more money than you have?

    •  You mean the workers who're keeping the lights on? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Glen The Plumber

      You don't blame them for your failures.

      Being bad at business and taking an extra 2 million dollars out of a struggling company is not justification for vilifying the people who are actually there to make the company function.

      Take back the House in 2014!!!!!!!!!!!! (50 state strategy needed)

      by mungley on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 11:45:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hostess may have been a poorly run company... (0+ / 0-)

    but the union shot themselves in the head in this case. In retrospect if is obvious they grossly miscalculated. They would have been much better off keeping their jobs at Hostess at reduced pay while they could plan for a move to a more stable employer. A crappy job is still better than no job.

    •  They still probably would have ended with no jobs. (4+ / 0-)

      They were going to be bought out anyway. At least they went down fighting for their principles.

      •  Yes probably would have ended that way... (0+ / 0-)

        but probably not today. If those 18,000 workers already have their next job lined up then by all means, stick it to the man based on principle. But if perchance they do not then they should have bided their time. A lot easier to find a job when you have a job. And a lot less stressful on your family.

        •  The company's financials were such (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Liberal Mole

          That the employee's pay and benefits were 2% of its liabilities. A 30% pay cut (which is what was being required) would make the pay and benefits 1.4% of its liabilities. The other 97.4% of its liabilities would have remained unchanged.

          The company's submitted bankruptcy "plan" had no other changes to its financial structure, just that tiny change, which would have meant that within a month after the concession, they would once again fail to make their debt payments.

          The company has 1.2 Billion dollars in debt. It could not afford the interest payments, never mind principle. A 0.6% change in its liabilities would have had exactly zero impact on the effect of the gigantic debt albatross.

          So, would the employees have bought themselves a few weeks of paychecks? Maybe, but probably not. And if they had bought an extra few weeks, the few extra paychecks would be 30% smaller. This way, at least, they also kept what should have been their own pay from further lining the pockets of the greedy bastards who ruined the company for personal gain.

  •  Great diary. Thak you. I heard an AP news (0+ / 0-)

    segment on Hostess on my way home. It was on Sirius/XM left.

    The headline blamed unions and the fact that Hostess makes junk food.
    The story itself only discussed the junk food part. The company has not modified its product lines to meet modern needs.

    .....And, that' snot the bakers' fault.

    Take back the House in 2014!!!!!!!!!!!! (50 state strategy needed)

    by mungley on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 11:42:10 PM PST

  •  Where is the substance in this diary? (0+ / 0-)

    There's nothing here but "Vulture capitalists killed Hostess, nyah nyah nyah," which is as content-free as "Greedy unions killed Hostess, nyah nyah nyah."

    Is that all we have? Is there no better argument to be made in the union's favor than that?

    Last night I jumped on a friend who parroted the greedy-unions meme, but I really didn't have anything substantial to rebut him with, nothing but the vulture-capitalist meme. When I saw this diary this morning I thought Good, I can send him a link to this & blow his position up. Imagine my dismay when I read through & found...nothing. Nothing that would convince anyone who's not already convinced.

    I would be most grateful to anyone who can furnish links to a coherent, substantive argument in favor of the bakers' union, like the one I hoped to find here.

    It's not a "fiscal cliff," it's a Fiscal Bluff--so why don't we call them on it?

    by Uncle Cosmo on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 04:11:53 AM PST

    •  check out this story (0+ / 0-)

      Work and pray, live on hay, You'll get pie in the sky when you die." The Preacher and the Slave, by Joe Hill, 1911

      by Joe Hills Ghost on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 04:57:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks so much for the link! (0+ / 0-)

        Just the sort of thing I was hoping for.

        Per that story, it sounds like the bakers' union surely didn't make the first mistakes in this fiasco--but they may have made the last one. At least as far as workers' cash flow is concerned.

        Although, as pointed out in the comments there, there is something to be said for pulling the plug sooner rather than later if the consensus is that the company has no path back to viability.

        It's not a "fiscal cliff," it's a Fiscal Bluff--so why don't we call them on it?

        by Uncle Cosmo on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 11:34:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Then feel free to write your own diary... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Giles Goat Boy, Glen The Plumber

      ..about it.

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - My late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 05:57:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  T&R (2+ / 0-)

        I enjoyed the diary, Mark.

        Too bad for Uncle Cosmo there is no technology out there to help him search for other information on this topic.

        "They are an entire cruise ship of evil clowns, these current Republicans"...concernedamerican

        by Giles Goat Boy on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 06:59:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Silly me, I made the mistake of thinking (0+ / 0-)

          that those who post diaries here ought to have a bit more knowledge about their subject than those of us who read them, and should be willing, even eager, to share it.

          If an effective "go fuck yourself" is the labor movement's response to people looking for information to support them, no wonder it's in trouble.

          Happily Joe Hills Ghost was kind enough to supply a link that you & the diarist were too busy telling me off to provide. Hopefully it will give me what I need to win the argument I'm sure to have over Thanksgiving dinner with some in-laws who think unions are the spawn of Satan.

          It's not a "fiscal cliff," it's a Fiscal Bluff--so why don't we call them on it?

          by Uncle Cosmo on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 08:27:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Uncle Cosmo... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            radical simplicity

            ...before you complain about the content of a post maybe you should understand what goes into one of these posts.

            First, I work a full time job. I saw Hostess had gone out of business Friday morning as I was getting ready to go to work. I dashed this off as quickly as possible to get something out there on the subject (and I still had to get to work on time). Laura Clawson also put out two diaries on the subject that were published prior to this one.

            Between the the three posts on Friday you should have been able to get the information you needed. My writing style is to show a human side of the equation as that is often missed in stories like this, not a just the facts type of post that you were looking for.

            Now, once I submit a piece I have no idea of when it is going to be published. When I wrote this (at 7:00 AM CST and queued to the Labor queue at around 8:30 AM CST) I put in the information that was available to me at that time, which wasn't much (The post was published at 5:00 PM CST). I make no apologies for my writing or writing style.

            If you expect to find all of the information you need from one post on a blog site you are most certainly guaranteed to be disappointed. I end with this....Markos said a while back that when you go into someone's diary that should not be a dick. Keep that in mind next time a writer does not live up to your high standards. If that does not work, follow my late mom's advice...if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all.

            "Republicans only care about the rich" - My late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

            by Mark E Andersen on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 04:26:48 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Maybe this is the problem: (0+ / 0-)
              I dashed this off as quickly as possible to get something out there on the subject
              Why were your reflections on the subject so important they had to "get out there" right away? Particularly if, as you say, you didn't have much information to go on?

              (NB Originally I was going to ask you why it was necessary for you to "get something out there" if Laura Clawson had "put out two diaries on the subject that were published prior to this one"? I am going to guess that her diaries had not yet appeared when you put yours "in the queue." But once both yours & hers had appeared, you might have edited your diary with links to hers.)

              Why did you title your diary "The unions killed Hostess…another right wing myth" if you weren't going to discuss why you think it's a "myth"? Are you saying that a reader here has no right to expect a diary to expand upon what its title says? That's what I was hoping for. Instead i got "a human side of the equation ... that is often missed in stories like this". OK, whatever, but that's not what your title led me to expect.

              You say you "dashed this off as quickly as possible", but let's be honest--it must have taken you at least 10 minutes, more likely 15, to compose & type this. Didn't it even occur to you to take the extra minute or so to drop in links to Laura Clawson's diaries? (Or to edit your diary to add the links when you saw them, say, Saturday morning?) My "dickish" post complaining about your content (or lack thereof) didn't appear until Sunday morning, which is when I first saw this diary; hers had long since rolled off the diary lists. How was I supposed to even know they existed?

              Finally, I don't believe that when Kos said "don't be a dick" he meant that diarists should be exempt from criticism. Your reaction reminds me of some "poets" I used to know when I was writing actively, who expected (nay, demanded) nothing but praise for their bad or sloppy verse & reacted with fury whenever someone pointed out its shortcomings.

              FTR I am not criticizing your writing style (which IMHO is above average around here) nor your choice of POV. I am complaining that your title led me to expect something that wasn't in the body. (And when I asked for the information that title led me to expect--even just links to sources for the information--which I presumed you had because you published a diary on the subject--you "invited" me to "write me own diary," i.e., fuck off. Remind me which one of us is being a "dick" here, hm?)

              It's not a "fiscal cliff," it's a Fiscal Bluff--so why don't we call them on it?

              by Uncle Cosmo on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 10:28:07 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  What is your problem? (0+ / 0-)

                Don't like what I wrote? Don't read it. It is really that simple.

                "Republicans only care about the rich" - My late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

                by Mark E Andersen on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 04:29:07 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I had to read it to find out I "didn't like it" (0+ / 0-)

                  And that's my problem. If you'd titled your diary something like "A Personal Reflection on 'The Unions Killed Hostess'"--a much more honest title--I probably would have passed, since I was interested in some hard information in support of the union, & not particularly interested in hearing about how you could never sweettalk your 5th-grade crush into slipping you a Twinkie at lunchtime.

                  As it was you not only wasted my time (the time it took to read your diary) with your sloppy titling, you had the gall to insult me for pointing out the disconnect between it & the body. But now at least I'll know what I'm getting (& not getting) if I ever open up one of your diaries again.

                  It's not a "fiscal cliff," it's a Fiscal Bluff--so why don't we call them on it?

                  by Uncle Cosmo on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 05:01:26 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  You didn't bother to read my post, did you? (0+ / 0-)

        At least I hope not. Otherwise I'm forced to wonder if you respond to everyone who's looking for information to support a progressive pro-labor position with a smartass dismissal like this.

        It's not a "fiscal cliff," it's a Fiscal Bluff--so why don't we call them on it?

        by Uncle Cosmo on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 08:16:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Not to nitpick, but the math is wrong. (0+ / 0-)

    From $750,000 to $2,550,000 is not a 300 percent raise. It's a 240 percent raise. (That is, the difference between $2,550,000 and $750,000 equals 2.4 times $750,000.) Still abominable, but you know our opponents will seize on these details. At least, those who know how to do math themselves, or are acquainted with those who do.

    "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is the first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk. Every state is totalitarian at heart; there are no ends to the cruelty it will go to to protect itself." -- Ian McDonald

    by Geenius at Wrok on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 05:08:37 AM PST

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