Friday, November 16, 2012

Union fable

Does the labor union movement really think this helps their cause:

No longer will children experience the glories of a Hostess sugar rush—the post-snack nervous energy coursing through their veins.

No longer will the golden sponge cake surrounding creamy white filling be the feedstock for deep-fried carnival treats.

Oh “story of ingenuity and creativity in free enterprise,” you have a bittersweet ending.

Oh bakers union, why have you forsaken us! All we wanted was our empty calories, an island of sweet, our momentary respite from eating things that are good for us. (All done in moderation and as a part of a balanced diet, of course.) But your 5,000 members refused the Hostess’ final offer “designed to lower costs.”

Let’s lament the greatest damage: 18,500 workers will be out of work.

The bakers union's rejection of Hostess' last offer is particularly, er, instructive:
Hostess insisted that unless workers accepted further cuts, the company would have to shut its doors for good. That's the sort of threat that distressed companies often make in labor negotiations, and unions are inclined to consider it a bluff. But after getting a look inside Hostess' books, the Teamsters concluded that the threat was serious. Its members narrowly approved the contract in September.

The bakers' union, which represents about a third of the Hostess' workforce, did not. Instead they launched a strike last week that Hostess CEO Greg Rayburn says forced the company to take the final, dramatic step of liquidating everything and firing workers....

It's not clear what, other than perhaps a misplaced faith that belief that they really did have the upper hand, might have convinced the bakers to strike. Certainly, the Teamsters all but begged them to accept the new contract. Some, interviewed by CNNMoney, said that their jobs simply weren't worth saving at the pay levels Hostess was offering. If that was really the prevailing opinion, it's a pity, because a lot of people at that company did seem to believe their jobs were valuable enough to hold onto, even if at a lesser pay grade.

That said, Hostess products have not set me free since, like, I was a kid.


  1. "Some, interviewed by CNNMoney, said that their jobs simply weren't worth saving at the pay levels Hostess was offering." With current high unemployment levels and benefit cuts looming, how is it they feel they will be better off? What do we need to do as a nation to create a climate in which working was better for the workers and the economy? Maybe the lesson is, sometimes someone has to loose if anyone is to win.

  2. Right, so a small subset of Hostess' workers were willing to sacrifice the jobs of thousands of other people, including members of other unions, to make a political point. There are always a lot of reasons when a business fails, but that last choice pulled the plug when the doctors held out at least some chance of a recovery.


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