Hostess Brands, the company better known as the maker of Butternut, Ding Dongs, Dolly Madison, Drake's, Home Pride, Ho Hos, Hostess, Merita, Nature's Pride, and of course Wonder Bread and Twinkies, and which previously survived one multi-year Chapter 11 bankruptcy process, when it operated as Interstate Bakeries, has just made a splash at the NY Southern Bankruptcy court, for the last time, with a liquidation filing. The reason: insurmountable (and unfundable) difference in the firm's collective bargaining agreements and pension obligations, which resulted in a crippling strike that basically shut down the company. In other words, Twinkies may well survive the nuclear apocalypse, but there was one weakest link: the company making them, was unable to survive empowered labor unions who thought they had all the negotiating leverage... until they led their bankrupt employer right off liquidation cliff. Will attention now turn to that another broke government entity, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp (PBGC), which will have to step in to resuscitate some 18,000 pension plans which suddenly vaporized after labor unions took their "negotiating" freedom a step too far.
From the filing:
Beginning on October 21, 2012, the Debtors began implementing the modifications to the CBAs. On November 7, 2012, the Debtors began to receive strike notices from various local unions affiliated with the BCT. On November 8, 2012, the Debtors received a strike notice from the IUOE. Between November 9 and November 13, 2012, various local unions affiliated with the BCT commenced strikes at 12 of the Debtors' bakeries. At another 12 bakeries, picket lines were set up by striking BCT workers, and certain BCT and other unionized workers at those bakeries chose to honor the picket lines by not reporting for work. As a result, production was significantly disrupted at the 24 bakeries impacted by the Strikes; however, many of the impacted bakeries remained operational to varying degrees due to management filling in for production workers and, in some plants, high numbers of employees crossing picket lines.
Since the strikes (the "Strikes") were commenced, the Debtors have urged striking employees to return to work. Unfortunately, at this time, thousands of the Debtors' employees continue to participate in or honor the Strikes. As a result, a sufficient number of the Debtors' baking facilities have become inoperable, and the Debtors are no longer able to fulfill customer orders or sell product at their retail stores. Because of the material impairment of the Debtors' business operations, the Debtors will soon lose access to the funding necessary to operate their businesses, and the Debtors will have triggered certain remedial provisions of the final DIP Order. As a result, the Debtors are beginning to take steps to wind down their business operations, including the relief requested in this Motion.
In other words, the labor unions representing 18,000 workers fought the company, and the unions won... A very pyrrhic victory. Sadly, they are all now out of a job as the unionized victory just happened to lead to the terminal winddown of their employer.
As to the future of the iconic brands, fear not: Hostess' numerous brands will be bought in a stalking horse auction by willing private buyers, however completely free and clear of all legacy labor and pension agreements which ultimately led to the company's liquidation.
Now if only Hostess had raised taxes... (because they tried cutting spending, and liquidation followed).
Finally, those 18,500 new initial jobless claims next week? Sandy's fault.
Full winddown motion: