Teamsters Union Warns Hostess Management
01/26/2012 – Earlier this month, Hostess Brands Inc. filed for bankruptcy for the second time in under a decade. Reports of the official filing indicated labor costs were among the key financial burdens for the company. Today, the Teamsters Union released a public statement warning Hostess Brands not to misuse the bankruptcy process in an attempt to bully its way to unnecessary operations changes, saying a consensual resolution with sacrifices by all stakeholders is what is required.
The union's comments were in response to motions filed on Wednesday by Hostess, rejecting the collective bargaining agreements with its major unions: The International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco and Grain Millers Union (BCTGM).
While such filings are an extraordinary move by the company that has serious ramifications, there are no immediate changes to the collective bargaining agreements. The filing of the motions begins a formal negotiation and legal process. The negotiation phase is intended to bring the parties together to reach a consensual resolution. If that fails, a formal hearing is conducted in bankruptcy court where the judge ultimately decides whether or not to grant the motions.
"We are prepared to negotiate in good faith to reach a consensual agreement, as I have said repeatedly," said the Chairman of the Teamsters Bakery and Laundry Conference, Dennis Raymond, "But any agreement will be conditioned upon sacrifices by all stakeholders and an overall restructuring to make sure Hostess management doesn't lead the company into this situation a third time. And if Hostess management thinks it can bully its way to unnecessary changes, they are sadly mistaken."
"Though not unexpected at this point and after months of unsuccessfully dealing with management, the Teamsters remain disappointed by the company's latest action," added Teamsters International Vice President Ken Hall. "The company has struggled as it pursued misguided strategies under revolving management.
"Meanwhile, Teamster Hostess members have sacrificed greatly over the past seven years. For Hostess to pin the blame on its employees is unconscionable and demonstrates how out of touch management is with its workforce," Hall said. "We will work hard to get a deal. But if a deal proves impossible because executives refuse to listen to reason, we will work equally hard to defend against the motions filed by the company to reject its collective bargaining agreements."
Hostess Brands’ spokesperson on the issue told FoodAndBeveragePeople.com that "Hostess Brands remains committed to reaching a consensual agreement with its unions. These motions are specifically designed to encourage good-faith negotiations so that we can reach that goal -- and that's what we continue to pursue."
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