I went to make the case to conservatives on right wing talk radio on Saturday. The host of the show had posted a story on his blog asking the surprisingly fair question "Did the Bakers go Galt?" I contacted him about it and we developed a pretty good understanding of each other. By the time I was on the show he was very informed on the Hostess issue.
His line of questioning was more than fair and provided a different perspective, one that conservatives could relate to. I am very happy to have gone on the show and I am sure there are some anti-Union zealots out there scratching their heads after listening.
My segment starts at the 1hr 10min point.
"Radio interview-Did the Hostess Bakers Union go Galt"
Ask any conservative to listen to the recording and if they still don't think there is a place for Unions then they never will. And you will know just how illogical that person is, so you won't have to guess anymore.
And now I will set Ayn Rand cultists straight
You may have seen the news that Flowers has placed a stalking horse bid for the 'Wonder Bread side' of Hostess. This offer includes 20 Bakeries and 6 brand names for a total of $390 million. It includes the bakery in Lenexa that I work at. As far as working for Flowers is concerned, I simply don't know enough to have an opinion.
I do know that they are non-Union and pay generally less than a baker is worth. They also included a comment in their offer about having no obligation to even talk to former employees, let alone the Union. A thoughtful gesture to say the least. Meet the new boss/same as the old boss....
Even after that sale, Hostess will still have 24 world famous brand names and 14 bakeries left to sell. That will leave the hedge funds with about $600 million to go to 'break even'. They will surely roll past that number when they sell the cake brands. Hostess cakes is considered far more valuable than Wonder. With brands like Twinkies, Suzy Q's, Zingers, Dolly Madison, Drake Cakes.... Not to mention that there are plenty of bread brands left to sell, Flowers did not get them all.
The real news story will occur when everything has been sold- the Union will be told to shove it and the hedge funds will pocket 100's of millions. You see, the company secured debt (roughly $1 billion) includes loans made by the Hedge Funds to the company over the years. It also includes the interest on those loans. That debt is protected but our pension is not. In other words, when they 'break even' they will have already profited 10's of millions of dollars in interest.
That's right, the hedge funds loaned themselves money at a 15% interest rate and that debt is secured but our pension is not.
Here's a prediction. The so-called liberal media will not notice this. The conservative media will deliberately mislead its audience. The story will not be honestly reviewed in order to protect the interests of the 'advertising class', such as the Koch brothers. The American public will not be informed of the successful redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the upper class.
Once this money is removed from the economy and put into the bank accounts of a few legalized thieves, it will have a permanent and obvious effect in any town that loses a bakery or distribution center. In multiple Midwestern towns, Hostess is one of the largest local employers. Like the Waterloo, IA bakery I started at. This will accelerate the demise of many of these small towns. Years from now Republicans in those small towns will blame the mythological over-regulation of corporate America for the bad local economy.
All so that some cash could get dusty in bank accounts in Bermuda.
Isn't that where Ayn Rand is wrong? Doesn't economic sustainability require that employers be concerned for employees? In Rands model doesn't all the money eventually end up in the hands of 1 person? While all the others starve?
Also, several Randians have told me that the company has no obligation to fairness outside of the law. If the law allows a corporation to steal literally 10's of thousands of dollars directly from me, isn't that an unfair advantage in the marketplace? I would think that a sustainable marketplace requires equality under the law. Overall, legalized theft of this nature allows the prevention of the rise of new brands within an industry. i.e. Hostess's legal behavior has allowed them to deny the ACTUAL bakers the use of their funds to start their own enterprises, or purchase the supposedly failing Hostess brand. Even for non baking business opportunities. i.e. my brewing project. If they were ordered to pay me back what they stole from me I would be that much closer to self-employed. As for now I'm just an unemployed dude looking for start up cash, no bank is talking to me seriously.
Maybe I'm missing something but that is how it looks to me. For now, I will be sticking with Adam Smith.
Also, the Hostess film is done. 26 minutes of former Hostess workers telling their own story, without the media filter. It's a compelling story when you see people who could just as easily be your brother, sister, uncle, or mom talking about the very real circumstances of their lives. It will be available in a day or two on youtube. I will post it right here on the Kos.