Job cuts OK, not pay: Twinkies bakers

FRUSTRATIONS, COMPLAINTS

Workers had a laundry list of frustrations, from rising healthcare costs to decreased wages and delayed pension benefits. They even cited a $10-per-week per worker charge they said Hostess claimed was needed to boost company capital."They have taken and taken and taken from us," said Debi White, who has worked at Hostess for 26 years, most recently as a bun handler at its bread and roll plant in Lenexa, Kansas."They have been walking around stomping their foot saying either you give in ... or else we're going to close you now.

Well, go ahead, we're tired of their threats," she said. "That's how we feel."Hostess workers are now scrambling to figure out when their health insurance runs out -- or if it already has -- and where and how to apply for job retraining and unemployment benefits.

Following a summer and autumn spent in labor negotiations trying to find a common path to reorganization, Hostess' management gained concessions from some unions, including the Teamsters.The fear of thousands of job losses, for its own members and other unions, led the Teamsters to plead with the BCTGM t o hold a secret ballot to determine if bakery workers really wanted to continue with the strike, even with the th r eat of closure.

Teamsters officials complained that bakery union leaders did "not substantively look for a solution or engage in the process," and complained that the BCTGM called for its strike on Nov. 9 without first notifying the Teamsters.

They said that, unlike the bakery union, the Teamsters voted to "protect all jobs at Hostess." Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall said Wednesday's court approval for liquidation marked "a sad day for thousands of families affected by the closing of this company."Bakery union President Frank Hurt has said that any labor agreements would only be temporary as Hostess was doomed anyway.

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