With the demise of 18,000 jobs weighing on their shoulders (though certainly not their consciousness’) and just in time for the Sunday morning talk shows union bosses are now trying desperately to point fingers at the victim (and Mitt Romney) for the union’s strike that ultimately destroyed Hostess and its 18,000 jobs. This blame game is going on despite the fact that the bakers’ union knew that its strike could, ultimately, lead to the company’s closure.
Ranging from the AFL-CIO’s Big Daddy Rich Trumka to the bakers’ union bosses who pulled the trigger by calling the strike that killed Twinkie the Kid, unions are now in full spin mode to make America believe that it was the company and Wall Street – not the union that called the strike that caused the company to go out of business.
With Hostess brands’ corporate corpse not even cold yet due to the nationwide union strike, the AFL-CIO’s Trumka issued a statement on Friday blaming Wall Street for the company’s crash:
What’s happening with Hostess Brands is a microcosm of what’s wrong with America, as Bain-style Wall Street vultures make themselves rich by making America poor. Crony capitalism and consistently poor management drove Hostess into the ground, but its workers are paying the price. These workers, who consistently make great products Americans love and have offered multiple concessions, want their company to succeed. They have bravely taken a stand against the corporate race-to-the-bottom. And now they and their communities are suffering the tragedy of a needless layoff. This is wrong. It has to stop. It’s wrecking America.
The problem with Trumka’s lie-filled logic is that Wall Street didn’t call the strike and Trumka fails to address the fact that without Wall Street investors investing in Hostess, the company, with its shrinking market and overly-burdensome union contracts would have likely died years ago.
In 2004, the makers of Twinkies first filed for bankruptcy, a five-year process that ranks among the longest such proceedings in U.S. history. The company continued to struggle financially, and now risks complete liquidation, as it cannot make payments on its $700 million line of credit, has $2 billion in unfunded pension obligations to retired employees, and owes $860 million in current debt.
Even more important, however, is the fact that, although they didn’t like it, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (with 6700 members’ jobs on the line) approved of the same concessionary contract that Hostess was seeking of the bakers’ union.
Though Teamster bosses are now trying to blame Hostess for its demise as well, late last week, the Teamsters had called on the bakery union to allow its members to vote, even going so far as to chastise the bakery union’s actions:
The BCTGM chose a different path, as is their prerogative, to not substantively look for a solution or engage in the process. BCTGM members were told there were better solutions than the final offer, although Judge Drain stated in his decision in bankruptcy court that no such solutions exist. Without complete information, BCTGM members voted by voice votes in union halls. The BCTGM reported that over 90 percent rejected the final offer and three of its units ratified the final offer.
However, as much as he and his fellow union bosses try to spin and finger point the results of the union’s actions that destroyed the Ding Dongs, in a Friday statement, bakery union boss Frank Hurt admits that his union members knew that their strike could kill Hostess:
Our members decided they were not going to take any more abuse from a company they have given so much to for so many years. They decided that they were not going to agree to another round of outrageous wage and benefit cuts and give up their pension only to see yet another management team fail and Wall Street vulture capitalists and ‘restructuring specialists’ walk away with untold millions of dollars.
Throughout this long and difficult process, BCTGM members showed tremendous courage, solidarity and devotion to principle. They were well aware of the potential consequences of their actions but stood strong for dignity, justice and respect.
And, now, no matter how union bosses try to spin it, 18,000 Hostess workers – with their dignity, justice and respect intact – are now destined to stand with their hands out in the unemployment line.