Hostess, but not its workers, makes a comeback

by Laura Clawson for Daily Kos Labor –

Twinkies are coming back! The jobs of most of the workers who used to make Twinkies and other Hostess cakes, and their union, are not coming back. Which the Associated Press presents as just another way for a company to compete for profits. (Shoot, the race to the bottom on wages and benefits is pretty much the way companies compete for profits these days.) Media Matters highlights how the AP presents the story of the Hostess bankruptcy largely from the viewpoint of the company’s executives. You know, workers say this, management says that, the workers lost their jobs and/or their union, but hey, look over here at the creamy filling and the dark cocoa being added to the cupcakes.

So since, with the brand’s reappearance on convenience store shelves, we’re going to be hearing a lot of these management-view thumbnail sketches of how Hostess went under, let’s recap some of what you won’t hear as much:

– Unionized Hostess workers made major concessions, taking pay and benefits cuts. That money was supposed to be reinvested into the company. It wasn’t.

– As the company was struggling, its CEO pay skyrocketed, and as it was going into bankruptcy, Hostess pushed to give $1.75 million in bonuses to top executives.

– Hostess claimed it had to close plants because workers went on strike, but in fact, the company was already planning to close nine bakeries and wasn’t telling which ones.

– Hostess stole its workers’ pension money to fund itself and still went bankrupt.

– And, as Media Matters points out, “while the AP story claims that “workers” are blaming the company’s woes on mismanagement and a failure to adapt to evolving consumer tastes, this has actually been the opinion of informed and objective third parties.”

This is the real story of Hostess: high pay and mismanagement at the top, concessions at the bottom, blame to the workers despite those concessions. Don’t forget that as you’re sinking your teeth into a creamy retro treat.

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