TWINKIE STRIKE: Hostess Going Out Of Business

Hostess, the maker of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread, is going out of business and laying off all of its 18,500 workers.

The company has a plant in Rocky Mount with about 275 people on the payroll.

The Irving, Texas, company says a nationwide worker strike crippled its ability to make and deliver its products at several locations.

Hostess had warned employees that it would file a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to unwind its business and sell assets if plant operations didn't return to normal levels by Thursday evening.

The closing of Hostess means a likely end to iconic lunchbox favorites like Twinkies and Ding Dongs, along with Wonder Bread.

The privately held company filed for Chapter 11 protection in January, its second trip through bankruptcy court in less than a decade.

The Rocky Mount plant makes Twinkies, bread and rolls.

Rocky Mount has the highest unemployment rate of all metropolitan areas in the state, at 12% for September, the latest month for which information is available. The unemployment statistics for October are due out next week.



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Hostess and its striking workers, including those at a Rocky Mount plant, could be heading for the end of the line as the company threatens to close permanently if employees do not return to their jobs.

Hostess originally set a deadline of 5:00 p.m. Thursday, saying it would file for bankruptcy if normal operations did not resume.
With more than 5,000 employees maintaining the strike, the company says it will announce its decision Friday.

A bankruptcy court hearing has been scheduled for Monday morning. Hostess employees say they want to protect their wages and pensions.



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Hostess Brands - the maker of Twinkies, Wonder Bread and other household-name products - said it would seek this week to liquidate the company unless enough workers stopped striking by the end of the workday on Thursday to allow the company to resume normal operations.

Members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union went on strike Nov. 9 in response to court-approved pay cuts. The company, which has about 18,000 employees, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January.

Hostess said it would file a motion with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, N.Y., Friday to close shop and sell its assets if enough employees do not return to work by 5 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday. If the motion is granted, Hostess would begin to close its operations as soon as Nov. 20.

Hostess Chief Executive Gregory Rayburn said the company did not have the financial wherewithal to weather an ongoing strike. A union spokesman was not immediately available for comment.



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The makers of Twinkies are closing plants because of a nationwide strike that's hitting home here in Eastern Carolina.

Strikers are outside the Hostess Brands plant in Rocky Mount this morning. The company says it's already closed bakeries in Seattle, St. Louis and Cincinnati with a loss of 627 jobs.

Some 80 people are outside the North Church Street plant. Picketers from other Hostess plants set up the picket lines around midnight and a union representative says most of the Rocky Mount workers have honored the line and have not gone to work.

The walkout that began Friday came after Hostess imposed a contract that would cut wages and benefits 27 to 32 percent, with an immediate 8 percent wage reduction, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union said.

Officials say the company stopped making contributions to the workers' pensions last year, and 92 percent of union members voted to reject the contract in September. Hostess, which makes Twinkies, Wonder Bread and Ding Dongs, filed for Chapter 11 protection in January, its second trip through bankruptcy court in less than a decade.

The Rocky Mount plant makes Twinkies, bread and rolls.


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