Members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) employed at Irving, Texas-based Hostess Brands Inc. locations across the country began to strike on Nov. 9.

According to BCTGM, the workers struck in response to a contract that was rejected by 92% of the union's Hostess members in September. The contract calls for wage and benefit cuts that amount to 27-32% overall, with an 8% wage reduction imposed immediately.

In addition, BCTGM says the company unilaterally ceased making contributions, required by its union contracts, to the workers’ pensions in July 2011. Hostess also imposed cuts in health benefits and eliminated the eight-hour workday.

“Hostess Brands is making a mockery of the labor relations system that has been in place for nearly 100 years,” states BCTGM International president Frank Hurt. “Our members are not just striking for themselves, but for all unionized workers across North America who are covered by collective bargaining agreements.”

Hostess Brands, which is in bankruptcy for the second time in eight years, issued the following response the same day: “A widespread strike will cause Hostess Brands to liquidate if we are unable to produce or deliver products. If that's the case, the company will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,300-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders.

“We urge our employees to remain on the job to rebuild the company. Sixty-four percent of our workforce is composed of nonunion employees and employees represented by unions that ratified our proposals for modified collective bargaining agreements. We believe they have earned the right to rebuild Hostess.

“We know the concessions are tough, but it would make more sense for unhappy employees to simply leave the company voluntarily than to strike and cause the company to close down, forcing everyone to lose their jobs.”

Founded in 1930, Hostess Brands has approximately 18,300 employees and operates 36 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes and 570 bakery outlet stores throughout the U.S.

The BCTGM represents more than 80,000 workers in the baking, food processing, grain milling and tobacco industries in the U.S. and Canada.

Source: Hostess Brands Inc., BCTGM International Union, PRNewswire-USNewswire