Hostess Brands Inc., the maker of Wonder Bread and Twinkies, said it will shut down and liquidate – putting jobs in Buffalo Niagara at risk – unless enough members of its striking bakery workers union return to work to resume normal operations.
The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union went on strike last Friday after a bankruptcy judge in White Plains imposed contract concessions that 92 percent of the union’s workers rejected.
“We don’t have the financial wherewithal, nor the manpower, to sustain operations through a strike,” Chief Executive Officer Gregory Rayburn said. Hostess has a distribution center on Creekside Drive in Amherst with 38 jobs at risk in the dispute.
“If we are forced to liquidate, it would mean the loss of their jobs,” said Erik Halvorson, a Hostess spokesman.
Hostess closed three of its 36 plants permanently Monday, blaming the strike, and about 13 plants are operating “unsustainably” because of worker shortages, Rayburn said. The bakers union has “made no demands, and in fact they stopped returning our calls about a month ago,” he said.
Rayburn said Hostess will file court papers today asking for authorization to shut the company down entirely Tuesday. It will ask the judge to hold a liquidation hearing Monday, he said.
Liquidation would mean the loss of 18,000 jobs, Rayburn said. It’s now up to the bakery workers “to decide if they want to call off the strike and save the company or cause massive financial harm to thousands of employees and their families,” Rayburn said in a statement.
The union, which said it represents about 5,000 Hostess workers, went on strike over what it called the “unilateral imposition of a horrendous contract.”
The union didn’t respond to a request to comment on the company’s statement.
News Business reporter Matt Glynn contributed to this report.