News Column

Workers Keep Kneading Dough

Nov. 12, 2012

Pat Kinney, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Iowa


The smell of fresh baked bread still wafted from within the Waterloo Hostess Bakery on Commercial Street through down town Waterloo this morning. How long that will continue remains an open subject.

Some 40-plus unionized Hostess workers remained on the job this morning, despite their union calling strikes at an increasing number of plants around the country in objection to pay and benefit cuts rejected by the workers but imposed by a bankruptcy judge.

Workers here were told by their international union to remain on the job today, said James P. "Red" Wilson III, a 20-year Hostess employee and steward with Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 36.

Workers here were told, "Keep showing up for work," Wilson said.

If workers are instructed by BCTWGM international officials to walk out here, "We'll go out here and that'll be the end of it," Wilson said.

The company has threatened closure and liquidation in the event of a mass walkout, a position the company restated Thursday.

Workers at individual bakeries around the country began to strike Friday. As of this morning 21 bakeries have gone on strike.

The Waterloo bakery serves all of Iowa and major portions of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

A strike here also would affect 21 Hostess drivers affiliated with Teamsters Local 238 in Waterloo. The Teamsters accepted company-imposed cuts which BCTWGM workers rejected, but were later imposed by the bankruptcy court. However, Teamsters workers are honoring BCTWGM pickets at other Hostess plants.

Hostess, which makes Twinkies, Wonder Bread and Ding Dongs, filed for Chapter 11 protection in January, its second trip through bankruptcy court in less than a decade.

Hostess warned in a statement last week that a widespread strike would prompt the company "to liquidate if we are unable to produce or deliver products" and it would then lay off most of its 18,300-member workforce "and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders."

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Source: (c) 2012 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

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