Friday, November 16, 2012

Farewell Hostess. We Loved You Well.

Another iconic American company has gone under during an increasingly difficult economic half-decade. 

The workers of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union went on strike last week over a new contract that would cut workers' wages and benefits. The strike in turn forced the company to give them a deadline (last night) to get back to work or the whole company would have to close. These union members forced the company's hand and now instead of striking their way back to previous wages and benefits, they are out of jobs. 

Those strikers refused to give in, hoping for a new contract that would be better for them-- feeling victimized by Hostess' cutting their benefits as part of the company's bankruptcy, as evidenced in their signs: 

It appears the company was pretty straightforward with them-- telling them honestly that they couldn't afford to keep them employed at the wages and benefits they wanted and that if they didn't get back to work, there would be no work to return to. But they held on, standing their ground, demanding a better deal. And Hostess Brands in turn held their ground, announcing that they are closing their doors, and will be laying off over 18,000 workers in the next few months. This news is sad for Twinkie lovers but probably devastating to those employees who will soon be unemployed.

But they made a choice. And everyone knows that we must accept that choices come with consequences. Sometimes devastating consequences, but that isn't always in our control.

I'm not a big Twinkie eater. Maybe no one is, anymore. Twinkie has declined in popularity as Whole Foods has increased. The country is pushing for healthier eating, and Twinkies are decidedly unhealthy. Besides which, if you can't afford gas and milk, it's hard to justify buying Hostess treats for your family.

Hostess says they will sell their brands and maybe that means that Twinkies, DingDongs and Ho-Hos won't really go away, but they might change hands. Which means they will likely never be the same. It's a little sad to see the end of something so iconic as Hostess. 

Of course it's sadder that over 18,000 people will be added to the many unemployed right now, but can we really blame Hostess? Isn't this the way business works? If the product isn't selling and the company runs out of money, the company closes. It's logical, natural and the way things work. And it's actually a good system-- one door closes, but often two or three more open. There are opportunities everywhere, if you are willing to sacrifice and do what it takes to find your own success.

 If we didn't have an entitlement mentality we would prepare better for these types of things-- store up food, save more money, learn self-sufficiency. But we tend to live as though this will never happen to us. And that's why it's devastating to be asked to take a pay cut or to be laid off. Sad, frustrating, infuriating, and devastating.  I wish them all well. I hope they all find work or return to college and find careers or whatever they are meant to do. I especially hope they all find peaceful solutions to their situation. 

Including this guy. Rest in peace, Twinkie the Kid.

This KSL article has the story. 

P.S.- I'm sure there is more to this story than I am aware of. Is this the fault of management? Is it the fault of the product line? Speculate away...

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