Local Jobs Lost as Hostess Ends Its Business

Friday, Nov 16, 2012  |  Updated 4:33 PM EDT
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Local Jobs Lost as Hostess Ends Its Business

NBC Connecticut

Hostess Twinkies were gone off the shelves at a Target store in New Britain just hours after the announcement that the company would be closing Friday.

A Teamsters union official said as many as 200 jobs in Connecticut have been eliminated as Hostess Brands Inc. goes out of business.

Kevin O'Toole, secretary-treasurer of Local 145 in Stratford, said Friday was the last day for mechanics, drivers and others.

Hostess has plants in Bridgeport, Cheshire, East Windsor, Norwich and Uncasville.

Hostess, based in Irving, Texas, says it will lay off its 18,500 employees. It said a nationwide strike by a bakers union crippled its ability to make and deliver products, including Twinkies, Wonder Bread, Ding Dongs and Ho Ho's.

The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union went on strike Nov. 9 to protest proposed wage and benefits cuts.

O'Toole said Teamsters are angry that they are losing their jobs because of the bakers' strike.

Bakers "thought they were playing a game with them and they guessed wrong," he said.

Members of the Teamsters union made numerous concessions over the years to keep their jobs, including pay cuts, O'Toole said. "We were gainfully employed. We had benefits," he said. "Now, we have nothing."

The company had reached a contract agreement with its largest union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which this week urged the bakery union to hold a secret ballot on whether to continue striking.

Ken Hall, general secretary-treasurer for the Teamsters, said his members decided to make concessions after union consultants found the company's financials were dire.

Hostess filed for Chapter 11 protection in January, the second time in less than three years. Unlike many of its competitors, Hostess had high pension, wage and medical costs related to its unionized workforce.

The company also faced intensifying competition from larger companies such as Mondelez International, the former snack unit of Kraft Foods that makes Oreos, Chips Ahoy and other Nabisco snacks.

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