I did some contract work with IBC when it was based in Kansas City a few years ago. Around 2008-ish. Back then, the Teamsters Union was doing its best to bring about the outcome that the Baker’s Union ultimately accomplished: Death of the business. The End didn’t come since the Teamsters knew back then–as they did now–when to pull back from the brink. “Save the Twinkies, Save the World” was the vision.
Every day, I’d read
the company’s consumer/employee bulletin board and just marvel at how divisive and completely un-moderated it was a website with a forum that some guy had set up for IBC employees to bitch about everything and I’m amazed that Hostess allowed it to exist. The CEO was constantly cursed by the union employees while everyone else damned the unions for demanding them all right out of jobs.
Nothing has changed, except that the inevitable has finally occurred. Hostess has been a doomed business for a long time. I’m not entirely sure who should be blamed (even though the proximate cause was the stubborness of the bakers). The vitriol, threats, and “I told you so’s” at the link don’t tell the story, but they clearly show that there’s no shortage of blame in any direction. It’s hard to see how any company can function for long with that much greed, suspicion, and ineptitude flying around.
I’m a stridently anti-union guy so it’s pretty obvious to me that the unions are to blame for the Hostess fiasco. They tried to turn a company that makes baked goods into more and more of a benefits and pension provider even as the company went bankrupt and had nothing left to give. You can’t be surprised by that kind of behavior. It’s just what they do. I pity the newly-unemployed workers, but I applaud the permanent destruction of thousands of union jobs. A more responsible business will take over the brand in time and all will be well, I’m sure.
Yet there’s a lesson here for us all. Like Hostess, the United States has also awarded lavish entitlements to its people and run up unsustainable liabilities in the process. The bakers-as-takers simply refused to accept the hard realities of the business and arithmetic, gambled their livelihoods on money that just wasn’t there, and lost everything for themselves and the 2/3 of employees who weren’t on board.
Our big national Twinkie is similarly going stale as people demand yet more cream filling from it. In Hostess’s case, the people who were tired of fighting about it with those who always wanted to squeeze out more simply walked away and let it go. What do we do as a nation when the capitalists just stop giving a fuck?