The unions will say management had given itself millions in pay raises while demanding worker cuts. (True, but the raises were barely a rounding error at a company that had lost almost half a billion bucks in two years; and Rayburn rescinded the raises anyway, making the brass work for a dollar a year apiece.)
The unions will blame the company for taking on almost $900 million in debt. (Yet that debt cost Hostess all of $45 million in interest last year, when its total losses swelled up to $340 million).
And here’s what you won't hear the unions ever talk about:
--Hostess paid out almost $100 million in health benefits for retirees last year, but over half of it covered workers who never had worked at Hostess. The Teamsters’ onerous and antiquated “multi-employer pension plan” foists the pension obligations of a bankrupt company on to the balance sheets of surviving rivals—ensuring a steady death spiral in any declining industry. A similar “MEPP” almost killed YRC, one of the largest trucking companies.
--Union rules forced Hostess to run separate truck fleets for delivering bread vs. sweets. A sweets driver, serving a 7-11 store, was forbidden from restocking shelves with breads already delivered and waiting in the back—he had to call for a bread driver to swing by and handle.
--The union restrictions on the 5,500 distribution routes at Hostess made it unprofitable to serve tiny outlets, yet Hostess was barred from using smaller, sleeker—and non-union—distributors.
--Workers were asked to take an 8% pay cut and pay 17% of their health-care costs instead of zero. Welcome to the club, guys. For this, they would have received 25% ownership of Hostess plus $100 million of Hostess debt to be paid back to the unions.