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Twinkies maker has plan to emerge from bankruptcy: wage cuts

Twinkies maker has plan to emerge from bankruptcy: wage cuts

POSTED: Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 12:15pm

UPDATED: Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 12:19pm

Hostess Brands filed a plan to emerge from bankruptcy which will involve cuts in employees' pay, health and pension plans.

But the future of the maker of Twinkies and Wonder Bread is still in doubt. The company said it could still go out of business if the Bakery Workers union carries out a threat to strike.

The iconic company's reorganization plan, filed Wednesday with the federal bankruptcy court in New York, calls for an 8% cut to employees' wages, a reduction in health benefits, and a freeze in pension plan payments for more than two years. Under the plan, the company will also not pay $2 billion it owes to many of its creditors, including vendors.

The plan would also give its unionized employees a 25% equity stake in the company, and two seats on its board of directors, and an interest-bearing note worth $100 million.

Hostess filed for bankruptcy in January for a second time in the last decade citing the high cost of pension obligations and debt.

Last month, more than 90% of the Bakery Workers union voted against a similar concession deal. However, non-baking employees, who are members of the Teamsters union, narrowly approved it.

The bankruptcy court last week approved Hostess' request to impose terms, including the pay cut and pension payment freeze, on its 6,400 bakers. But the union, which represents about a third of the workers at Hostess, has threatened to strike, which could shut down the company. A strike date has not yet been set.

Management insists that a strike would lead to liquidation and that the reorganization plan is the only way to keep the company alive.

"Demand for Hostess products has been very resilient, giving us a solid base to work from," said CEO Gregory Rayburn in a statement Thursday. "With a competitive cost structure and fresh capital at our disposal, we can begin to make the kinds of investments in our business that is essential to our future success."

But the Bakery Workers union has said it doesn't believe in management's turnaround plans.

"The plan has little or no chance of succeeding in saving the business," said Frank Hurt, president of the Bakery Workers union, in a statement last month.

"This is a company that is controlled by Wall Street private equity and hedge fund firms, whose sole objective is to maximize their own returns, not rebuild a company for the long haul," he said.

The Bakery Workers union did not have an immediate comment Thursday on the company's formal reorganization plan.

If the company is forced out of business, the names and recipes for Twinkies, Ho Hos, Ding Dongs, Wonder Bread and other products are likely to be bought at a bankruptcy auction by a competing company. But most of the 18,500 workers at Hostess could lose their jobs.

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