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Court Allows Hostess Brands To Begin Liquidation

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TULSA -

A federal bankruptcy judge on Wednesday gave Hostess Brands permission to begin liquidating the company.

That means as many as 15,000 people across the country will lose their jobs.

It's been twelve days since the baker's union at Hostess went on strike.

While a handful of union members are still on the picket line, this could be their last stand.

A federal bankruptcy judge told the company on Wednesday to return to a "liquidation scenario." In other words, it can begin the process of selling its assets and closing the company for good.

"I looked for that to happen, that no agreement would (come) and they would do that, because from some time back, it was obvious that they wanted to liquidate," union member Noella Noland said.

The Hostess CEO told the court Wednesday that it planned to immediately let go of 15,000 employees from its plants, distribution centers and outlet stores across the country.

Joe Morrison has worked at the Tulsa facility for 30 years.

"I hate it for a lot of people losing their jobs but we just couldn't take it," Morrison said. "We just couldn't take them cuts and stuff."

The baker's union went on strike after Hostess said it planned to implement an 8 percent paycut and stop contributing to employee pensions.

The Teamsters approved a contract that called for those cuts but 92 percent of the employees in the baker's union rejected it.

"It wasn't the unions that put this company down, it was mismanagement from the very top with their big bonuses and not putting any money back into the equipment... they just didn't do nothing," Morrison said.

Hostess is valued at more than $2 billion.

A company consultant told the judge Wednesday there have been a flood of inquiries from potential buyers for some of Hostess' iconic brands, such as Twinkies or Ding Dongs.

But when a sale would take place is unknown, the same goes for whether the new owner would hire back Hostess employees who lost their jobs.

"It's a sad day, sad day... just trust God, that's all I can say," Clifford Owens said.

Hostess says most of the wind down will take place in the first three months as the company sells its assets. The company plans to keep almost 3,000 people on a temporary payroll to clean the plants and prepare to shut down the equipment.

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