Hostess Going Out Of Business Impacts Oklahoma Workers

Friday, November 16th 2012, 7:35 am
By: News On 6

Hostess Brands says it is going out of business, closing the plants that make products including Twinkies and Wonder Bread, and laying off all of its 18,500 workers.

The company says a week-long strike has cut too deep in its ability to pay the bills. The Baker's union in Tulsa went on strike a week ago, Friday.

Hostess says that was the last straw and now they want a court to approve their plan to "wind down" the company and cut more than 18,000.

The threat of a shut down has not hampered the spirit of some Tulsa Hostess employees.

"Until they actually tell us to leave we'll stay here and fight for what we believe in," said union member Doyle Briggs.

The baker's union says Hostess wants to implement an 8 percent pay cut and stop contributing to employee pensions.

Read announcement from union web site.

"It's corporate greed, that's all it is," said member Audra Jones.

Hostess says the strike has been too much to overcome, so they've closed 33 bakeries across the country, including the one at 11th and Sheridan.

CEO Gregory Rayburn said in a statement, "We deeply regret the necessity of today's decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike."

Read the announcement from Hostess on its web site.

Hostess says its latest offer would give the unions a 25 percent stake in the company, as well as a seat on the company's board of directors.

At the Tulsa plant, 160 people now stand to lose their jobs.

Doyle Briggs has worked there for 26 years.

"They take all the money that we've given them over the years in concessions and put it in their pocket, instead of working on the building," Briggs said. "You can obviously see they didn't put much into the buildings or into the equipment."

11/15/2012 Related Story: Hostess Workers Continue Strike Despite Threats Of Closure

A corporate bankruptcy expert told News On 6 it's highly likely a judge will grant Hostess its wish and allow it to close the company, but it wouldn't happen overnight. Instead, it would slowly close down over several months.

The closure would include five Hostess bakery outlet stores and employees in Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Sand Springs, Bartlesville and Muskogee.

The union members say they won't let that keep them from walking the picket line.

"I cannot worry about it. I'm going to leave it in God's hands and that's how I feel," Jones said.

Hostess says it will continue to deliver products that have already been baked and its retail stores will remain open for as long as it takes to sell those products.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.