Workers continued to walk the picket lines Friday, even after bankrupt Hostess Brands said it was on the verge of shutdown. "We're not just some greedy union workers," said union member Steven Metcalf. "We all have families out here, risking mortgages, car payments, everything."
The company that makes Twinkies, Cupcakes and Wonder Bread announced Friday morning it will close its doors for good after a national strike crippled its operations. Thousands of members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union went on strike last week after rejecting a contract offer in September that cut wages and benefits.
More than 18,500 workers will lose their jobs. The Bakers' union represents around 5,000.
CEO Gregory Rayburn said to union members, "If you think there's something better, you should go find that job. [...] but that doesn't mean you should strike and put 17,000 or 18,000 other people out of work and their families out of work just because you're unhappy with the terms."
The Hostess products will stay on store shelves for as long as they last, which may be just a few days. Now the company will try to sell off those brands, as it shuts down bakeries and plants around the country, including two in Kansas - one in Emporia, and one in Lenexa.
Some strikers expected this to happen. "The Hostess name has value of its own and we believe there are companies out there looking to purchase that name and continue making the product," said Hostess employee Bill McEwin.
Hostess brands are some of the most famous in the food business. But after more than 80 years, Hostess buckled under increased competition and America's trend toward healthier snacking.
Hostess says it will now begin shutting down its 33 bakeries and 565 distributing centers.