After Bankruptcy Hostess Vows to Keep Making Twinkies, But Sacrifices Workers

Hostess will make employees less secure by busting their pensions, cutting their medical benefits and abrogating their labor contracts.

Here's a case of good news oozing out of bad news, and vice versa.

The bad news is that Hostess Brands has sunk into bankruptcy. It couldn't stay afloat with the $860-million debt piled onto it after a group of Wall Street speculators took over the 82-year-old company.

The good news, though, is that devoted customers can still get their daily fix of five kinds of sugar, partially hydrogenated oil, polysorbate 60, artificial flavors, and yellow dye No. 5 — just a few of the ingredients in Hostess Twinkies. When top executives filed for Chapter 11 in January, they assured an anxious nation that the corporation would keep chugging out Twinkies, Ho Hos, Ding Dongs, and its other caloric delights while they dealt with a few legal details to restructure Hostess.

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Oh, goodie! But wait — those "details" constitute the bad news flowing out of the good news. The CEO says that to become "a highly competitive company that provides secure employment for our employees," Hostess must make those employees less secure by busting their pensions, cutting their medical benefits, and abrogating their labor contracts. Does this Twinkie-in-Chief even understand how twisted his logic is? Apparently not, for he also asserts that one of the "tremendous inherent strengths" that Hostess can build on to become a viable company is "a talented and experienced workforce."

Thanks for the compliment, chief, but I'm guessing the workforce would prefer a decent pension. Without that, your words are as empty as the calories in a Ding Dong. Meanwhile, the union workers who literally deliver the goods for the company point out that they've already made concessions — and it's time for the profiteering corporate executives who filled Hostess with all that debt to stop sucking all the cream out of its Twinkies.

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the new book, "Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow." (Wiley, March 2008) He publishes the monthly "Hightower Lowdown," co-edited by Phillip Frazer.