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Hostess Deadline To Workers Passes Without News Of Closure

By Deborah Gaines & Ryan Crowe, CBSDFW.com
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twinkies 51336481 Hostess Deadline To Workers Passes Without News Of Closure

Hostess Twinkies. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s been less than a week since Hostess Brands workers went on strike, and they were given an ultimatum until 4 p.m. Thursday to get back on the job.

But as the deadline came and went, no news came from the company on what the future had in store for the grocery store staple snack cake company.

In an email to CBSDFW.com Thursday a Hostess spokesman said they would probably not be announcing anything on the deadline or the future of the company until Friday morning.

But in a statement to CBS News, another spokesman said some striking employees returned to work in advance of the deadline, but said it wasn’t clear if enough employees werre back on the job to forestall a liquidation filing.

Hostess, the maker of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread, is reportedly more than $860 million in debt.

Officials with the Irving-based company said they will file a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and liquidate the entire business if enough employees don’t return to work.

In a statement released Wednesday, Hostess CEO Gregory Rayburn said, “We simply do not have the financial resources to survive an ongoing national strike.” The company sought bankruptcy protection, for the second time in eight years, back in January.

The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union (BCTGM) went on strike November 9. Striking workers have shut down production at more than half of the company’s 36 plants.

In response to the strike Hostess permanently closed three bakeries earlier this week. The closures will send more than 600 workers, in Seattle, St. Louis and Cincinnati, to the unemployment line. If Hostess follows through with the company liquidation an estimated 18,000 jobs will be lost.

With the strike and bakery closures Hostess said work at 13 plants has been slowed to the point of being unsustainable.

The largest union working for Hostess, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, narrowly voted to a labor deal with the company – a move Hostess says will save them some $200 million a year. Today Teamsters said BCTGM members should vote by secret ballot to decide if they’ll continue to strike or force the company into liquidation.

Rayburn said, “It is now up to Hostess’ BCTGM represented employees and Frank Hurt, their international president, to decide if they want to call off the strike and save this Company, or cause massive financial harm to thousands of employees and their families.”

The final contract offer made included slashed wages, commissions, and pensions. Union officials had said they waned executives to share in the hardship caused by the company bankruptcy.

According to the company website, if employees do not return to work by 4 p.m. the company will:

  • Hostess will file a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Friday, November 16, 2012 requesting to wind-down the Company and sell all of its assets;
  • Hostess has requested a hearing on the motion for Monday, November 19, 2012

Should the Hostess request to liquidate be granted, the company says they would begin the total shutdown of operations as early as November 20, and fire all workers except those needed to prepare its facilities for sale.

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