Hostess decides to go out of business amid union dispute - FOX 35 News Orlando

Hostess decides to go out of business amid union dispute

Hostess Brands Inc., maker of Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Ho-Hos, Fruit Pies and Wonder Bread, decided to go out of business and liquidate its assets Friday morning after failing to win back striking workers.

The company posted a statement on a website set up specifically for people following the strike.

"We deeply regret the necessity of today's decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike," said Gregory F. Rayburn, chief executive officer of the Texas-based company. "Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders."

The Orlando Sentinel reports that earlier this year, Hostess employed 189 people at its Merita Bread Bakery in downtown Orlando and more than 90 people in retail stores across Central Florida.

"We're not asking for a raise. We just want to maintain our pay and our pension. I make less now than when I started here," Ron Hopkins, vice president of the AFL-CIO's Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 103 in Orlando, told the Sentinel.

About one-third of Hostess's workers are union members who are unhappy about the company's cutbacks during its bankruptcy reorganization.

But problems with several unions have prevented the company from moving forward.

The privately held food maker filed for Chapter 11 protection in January.

The Texas-based firm said significant cost pressures had hindered its ability to compete, "primarily due to legacy pension and medical benefit obligations and restrictive work rules."

Hostess, which employs roughly 19,000 people, said its labor costs, combined with the economic downturn, had squeezed funding and prompted the decision to restructure.

The company emerged from bankruptcy in 2009, but the restructuring efforts at that time were insufficient, the company said.

The company said bakery production has already shut down.

The Associated Press was used in this report.

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