Northeast Times

Judge tells Hostess it can proceed with closing

The re­prieve for 300 work­ers at a North­east Philly bakery las­ted one day. The com­pany an­nounced plans to close on Monday, and then ac­cep­ted a judge's re­quest to seek a last-ditch ef­fort to re­solve a uni­on dis­pute. The ef­fort failed.

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The re­prieve for about 300 Host­ess Brands em­ploy­ees in North­east Phil­adelphia las­ted about one day.

The bread and snack cake man­u­fac­turer based in Irving, Texas, an­nounced late Tues­day plans to shut down op­er­a­tions per­man­ently and li­quid­ate its as­sets as a res­ult of its bank­ruptcy and a 12-day-old labor strike in­volving one of its largest em­ploy­ee uni­ons.

Work­ers at the com­pany’s North­east plant, at Grant Av­en­ue and Blue Grass Road, stand to lose their jobs, as do about 18,500 em­ploy­ees na­tion­ally.

On Wed­nes­day morn­ing, a fed­er­al bank­ruptcy judge in White Plains, N.Y., gran­ted the com­pany per­mis­sion to com­mence with its “li­quid­a­tion scen­ario,” ac­cord­ing to The Dal­las Morn­ing News. Judge Robert Drain had on Monday urged Host­ess of­fi­cials and lead­ers of the strik­ing Bakers, Con­fec­tion­ary, To­bacco Work­ers and Grain Millers uni­on to meet in a last-ditch ef­fort to re­solve a con­tract dis­pute, but talks broke down on Tues­day without a com­prom­ise, the com­pany said.

Host­ess, which man­u­fac­tures Won­der Bread, Twinkies and oth­er baked products un­der vari­ous brand names, has been in Chapter 11 bank­ruptcy re­or­gan­iz­a­tion since Janu­ary. It is the com­pany’s second bank­ruptcy fil­ing in the last dec­ade.

The com­pany’s largest em­ploy­ee uni­on, the Team­sters, re­solved their own con­tract dis­pute with the com­pany earli­er this year and took part in Tues­day’s BCT­WGM con­tract talks. BCT­WGM rep­res­ents about 5,000 Host­ess work­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton Post, Host­ess has asked to shut down 36 baker­ies, 242 de­pots, 216 re­tail stores and 311 hy­brid de­pot-store fa­cil­it­ies as part of its li­quid­a­tion. The fa­cil­it­ies span 22 states.

The com­pany also plans to sell its icon­ic brand names. In court on Wed­nes­day, a com­pany at­tor­ney told Drain that the com­pany has seen “very healthy com­pet­i­tion” for its brands, the Morn­ing News re­por­ted.

Host­ess would ini­tially fo­cus on selling cer­tain as­sets to “con­tin­ue as a go­ing con­cern” be­fore con­duct­ing an open auc­tion, the Dal­las news­pa­per re­por­ted. ••

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You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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