Video via CBS Channel 13.
UPDATE: Ho no! Poor a glass of milk for the dessert foods that are no more, because it appears that Twinkies, Ho Hos, Ding Dongs, and the rest of Hostess Brands Inc.’s cupboard full of snack foods could really be leaving supermarket shelves for good. Mediation efforts between the company and the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco, and Grain Millers Union—which were supposed to save the company—failed Tuesday, meaning Hostess will return to bankruptcy court Wednesday to make its case of liquidating and selling off its assets. Roughly 18,000 workers at the Texas-based company will lose their jobs.
Twinkies may yet have an infinite shelf life. Hostess Brands Inc. and one of its largest unions have agreed to go into mediation, so the company will stay in business for the time being. Hostess filed for bankruptcy last Friday, claiming a union strike ruined its operations and announcing plans to lay off all 18,500 of its employees. But a bankruptcy judge on the case said the dueling parties have to go through mediation before Hostess Inc. can sell off its assets. It won’t be a cake walk, but at least you can cancel your $1,000 Ho Ho bid on eBay.
Judge Robert D. Drain of the Federal Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York pushed hard for the two sides to try one last round of talks. The judge expressed worry that neither side had exhausted all efforts to avoid liquidation. He especially urged the bakery union to seek mediation, suggesting that it might face significant legal claims if Hostess is forced to liquidate.
“I’m giving the union, as well as the debtor and their lenders, a chance to work out their issues in private,” Judge Drain said. “If they don’t take it, it’s not that the issues won’t be worked out. They will, but it will be done in public and in an expensive way.”
While publicly Hostess blames the union for their financial woes, it seems the corporate executives were engaged in some "fuzzy math" behind the scenes.
Even as it played the numbers game, Hostess had to face chaos in the corner office at the worst possible time. Driscoll, the CEO, departed suddenly and without explanation in March. It may have been that the Teamsters no longer felt it could trust him. In early February, Hostess had asked the bankruptcy judge to approve a sweet new employment deal for Driscoll. Its terms guaranteed him a base annual salary of $1.5 million, plus cash incentives and “long-term incentive” compensation of up to $2 million. If Hostess liquidated or Driscoll were fired without cause, he’d still get severance pay of $1.95 million as long as he honored a noncompete agreement.
When the Teamsters saw the court motion, Ken Hall, the union’s secretary-treasurer and No. 2 man, was irate. So much, he thought, for what he described as Driscoll’s “happy talk” about “shared sacrifice.”
Some unsecured creditors had informed the court that last summer — as the company was crumbling — four top Hostess executives received raises of up to 80%. (Driscoll had also received a pay raise back then.) The Teamsters saw this as more management shenanigans. “Looting” is how Hall described it in TV interviews.
In the end, Hostess could still go through bankruptcy, and shutter all the plants. However, the only real question at this point is will they actually get away with blaming the employees for their financial shenanigans while the executives sail away in their golden parachutes?
But whatever happens, just remember that this is all the fault of the E-vil unions and their minions, got it?