Hostess posted sales of $2.5 billion in 2011 but lost $341 million and lacked the cash flow to hold out through the bakers union work stoppage that had only lost a few days of production so far. One reason is a labor-rule burden that by comparison makes Detroit look like Hong Kong.
The snack giant endured $52 million in workers’ comp claims in 2011, according to its bankruptcy filing this January. Hostess’s 372 collective-bargaining agreements required the company to maintain 80 different health and benefit plans, 40 pension plans and mandated a $31 million increase in wages and health care and other benefits for 2012.
Union work rules usually required cake and bread products to be delivered to a single retail location using two separate trucks. Drivers weren’t allowed to load their own vehicles, and the workers who loaded bread weren’t allowed to load cake. On most delivery routes, another "pull up" employee moved products from back rooms to shelves.
This year management negotiated concessions from some of the unions, including the Teamsters, but the bakers rejected a last and best offer in September. Then the courts gave Hostess unilateral authority to modify collective-bargaining contracts, prompting the strike. So now it will liquidate, instead of attempting to emerge from Chapter 11 intact.
The 18,500 layoffs are equal to about 11% of the net new jobs the entire U.S. economy created in October. The unions are blaming private equity, or Bain Capital, or capitalism, but the election is over. And so is Hostess.
Not to mention that if it hadn’t been for private equity, in this case Ripplewood Holdings, Hostess would never have gone back into business after their 2004 bankruptcy. And these jobs would have been lost eight years sooner.
But this just proves how the parasites will eventually kill the host — or Hostess — and bring about their own demise, if they have their way.