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Poor management, not union intransigence, killed Hostess.
Los Angeles Times ^ | 11/25/2012 | Michael Hiltzik

Posted on 11/25/2012 7:35:33 AM PST by SeekAndFind

Let's get a few things clear. Hostess didn't fail for any of the reasons you've been fed. It didn't fail because Americans demanded more healthful food than its Twinkies and Ho-Hos snack cakes. It didn't fail because its unions wanted it to die.

It failed because the people that ran it had no idea what they were doing. Every other excuse is just an attempt by the guilty to blame someone else.

Take the notion that Hostess was out of step with America's healthful-food craze. You'd almost think that Hostess failed because it didn't convert its product line into one based on green vegetables. Yet you only have to amble down the cookie aisle at your supermarket or stroll past the Cinnabon kiosk at the airport to know that there are still handsome profits to be made from the sale of highly refined sugary garbage.

It's true that the company had done almost nothing in the last 10 years to modernize or expand its offerings. But as any of the millions of Americans who have succumbed to Twinkie cravings can attest, there has always been something about their greasy denseness and peculiar aftertaste that place them high among the ranks of foodstuffs that can be perfectly satisfying without actually being any good.

Hostess management's efforts to blame union intransigence for the company's collapse persisted right through to the Thanksgiving eve press release announcing Hostess' liquidation, when it cited a nationwide strike by bakery workers that "crippled its operations."

That overlooks the years of union givebacks and management bad faith. Example: Just before declaring bankruptcy for the second time in eight years Jan. 11, Hostess trebled the compensation of then-Chief Executive Brian Driscoll and raised other executives' pay up to twofold.

(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: hostess; union
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At the same time, the company was demanding lower wages from workers and stiffing employee pension funds of $8 million a month in payment obligations.
1 posted on 11/25/2012 7:35:42 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Hostess won’t be stiffing them anymore, will it?


2 posted on 11/25/2012 7:39:03 AM PST by jospehm20
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To: SeekAndFind

Ok, the contracts embedded horrendously stupid conditions - can’t ship bread and other products on the same truck eg.

But management AGREED to every one of those ridiculous conditions. They’ve got to take some responsibility for that.


3 posted on 11/25/2012 7:39:12 AM PST by DManA ( you)
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To: SeekAndFind

Never the fault of the poor, oppressed unions, at least by LA Times standards,.


4 posted on 11/25/2012 7:39:49 AM PST by Rennes Templar (Be positive: America is greater than Obama.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Hmmm, and - of course - those modernization funds would have come from where?

I totally agree that management in that company - and in most companies - is right out of Dilbert.

But take the ineptness and corruptness of management, multiply it by a googol, and we’re approaching a fraction of the sleeze of a typical union leader.

An idiot without proper training becomes a union leader.
An idiot with an MBA becomes a manager.


5 posted on 11/25/2012 7:41:03 AM PST by Da Coyote
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To: SeekAndFind

I suppose you could make a business case for way the company was run for the past 10 years. They had a stale product line whose popularity was sinking. Either you invest in building a whole new product line or you milk the company for whatever you can get out of it for as long as you can.

Who knows, that might have been the smartest strategy?


6 posted on 11/25/2012 7:42:13 AM PST by DManA ( you)
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To: Rennes Templar

This article is complete garbage.


7 posted on 11/25/2012 7:43:35 AM PST by CommieCutter
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To: SeekAndFind

MOST companies are struggling with pension obligations, even to make the minimum required contributions. I have no idea how the company was run, but wouldn’t expect the LA Times reporter to be unbiased.

Is it unreasonable to think union demands like artificially inflated wages, pensions, and other benefits kept them from spending enough on modernization?

I don’t know the answers, just not ready to swallow the LA Times story so easily.


8 posted on 11/25/2012 7:43:53 AM PST by Mich Patriot (PITCH BLACK is the new "transparent")
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To: SeekAndFind

Same crap we had to listen to about Detroit.... it wasn’t the unions but bad management. That should be the union motto.


9 posted on 11/25/2012 7:45:26 AM PST by rhombus
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To: SeekAndFind

I am so sick of the CEO getting a raise argument. It didn’t amount to squat compared to the amount of cuts required for the bankruptcy. It wouldn’t have saved them. It wouldn’t have saved enough even if the CEOs had worked for free.

It’s ridiculous! 2+2=5 with these people.


10 posted on 11/25/2012 7:46:00 AM PST by CommieCutter
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To: SeekAndFind

Do you really have to modernize to make, box and ship a twinkie?


11 posted on 11/25/2012 7:46:20 AM PST by Bronco_Buster_FweetHyagh (I cling to guns and religion.)
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To: jospehm20

Yes invest massive amounts of capital in a struggling enterprise as sales struggle and make sure you modernize but besure you do not headcount or reduce labor costs. When people realize that ROI dictates capital investment they might understand business.


12 posted on 11/25/2012 7:46:45 AM PST by KSCITYBOY
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To: CommieCutter

Typical MO: Leftists lying to defend their own.


13 posted on 11/25/2012 7:49:27 AM PST by Rennes Templar (Be positive: America is greater than Obama.)
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To: KSCITYBOY

I think most liberals just think that businesses should run like the federal gov’t and run deficits for the greater good. The problem is they can’t.


14 posted on 11/25/2012 7:49:41 AM PST by CommieCutter
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To: CommieCutter

mmm...

You do know that the Hostess management team is a bunch of libtards guided by former House Democrat Majority Leader Dick Gebhardt?


15 posted on 11/25/2012 7:49:55 AM PST by jjotto ("Ya could look it up!")
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To: DManA

For the unions, negotiations were a kind of game they played with management. The little feather-bedding rules that saved a few jobs while denying better working conditions to the people with real jobs, was the way they worked. Back in the early ‘70s, the Auto-unions did not press management to replace the worn-out factories that were hot in the summer and cold in the winter or get machinery to do jobs that were down-right depressing. My wife’s uncle made an art-form of using his sick benefits and perversely passed on crappy product because the company did not want to bear the cost of turning out good stuff.


16 posted on 11/25/2012 7:50:42 AM PST by RobbyS (Christus rex.)
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To: SeekAndFind
The shrinking LA Times telling somebody else how to run their business!?

Hilarious!

17 posted on 11/25/2012 7:52:05 AM PST by E. Pluribus Unum (Labor unions are the Communist Party of the USA.)
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To: CommieCutter

Not many liberals realize how poorly run many government offices are.


18 posted on 11/25/2012 7:52:11 AM PST by RobbyS (Christus rex.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Modernization usually results in layoffs.


19 posted on 11/25/2012 7:53:32 AM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: jjotto; CommieCutter

Interesting piece here:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2012-11-16/hostess-liquidation-curious-cast-characters-twinkie-tumbles
_______________________

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the just announced Hostess liquidation, one that will be largely debated and discussed in the media, or maybe not at all, is the curious cast of characters and the peculiar history of this particular bankruptcy.

Some may not be aware that the company’s Chapter 11 (or colloquially known as 22) bankruptcy filing this January, which today became a Chapter 7 liquidation, was the second one in the company’s recent history, with Hostess, previously Interstate Bakeries, emerging from its previous protracted multi-year bankruptcy in 2009.

What is curious is that its emergence had all the drama of a anti-Mitt Romney PAC funded thriller, with a PE firm, in this case Ripplewood holdings, injecting $130 million in order to obtain equity control of Hostess as it was emerging last time. There were also more hedge funds, investment banks, strategic buyers, politicians involved in this particular story than one can shake a deep fried numismatic value Twinkie at. More importantly, however, as America has been habituated following the last season of the reality TV show known as the presidential election, if Private Equity then “bad.” Only this time there is a twist: because it wasn’t really PE that was the pure evil in the Obama long-term campaign, it was associating PE with Republicans, and thus: with jobs outsourcing. And here comes the Hostess twist:

Because Tim Collins of Ripplewood, was a prominent Democrat, a position which allowed him to get involved in the first bankruptcy process in the first place, due to his proximity with the Teamsters’ long-term Democrat heartthrob Dick Gephardt (whose consulting group just happens to also be an equity owner of Hostess). In other words, the traditional republican-cum-PE scapegoating strategy here will be a tough one to pull off since the narrative collapses when considering that it was a Democrat who rescued the firm, only to see it implode in a trainwreck that has resulted in the liquidation of a legendary brand, and 18,500 layoffs.

CLICK ABOVE LINK FOR THE REST...


20 posted on 11/25/2012 7:55:33 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Unions, like our brainless President, think automation in a factory hurts our economy.


21 posted on 11/25/2012 7:56:06 AM PST by Erik Latranyi (When religions have to beg the gov't for a waiver, we are already under socialism.)
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To: Da Coyote
“Hmmm, and - of course - those modernization funds would have come from where?”

Precisely. In the end, there are probably a ton of reasons why Hostess is calling it quits, but striking while your company is struggling is not a legitimate approach to saving it.

I believe strongly in incentives, like profit sharing. I think these incentives should also be applied to CEOs. If your company struggles, no matter what your position, you shouldn't do as well. If your company does well, then all should share in the fruits of their efforts.

22 posted on 11/25/2012 7:56:27 AM PST by pieceofthepuzzle
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To: KSCITYBOY

First people have to realize that the purpose of running a business is to turn a profiit for owners/investors. It appears that a lot of people don’t get that.


23 posted on 11/25/2012 7:57:06 AM PST by jospehm20
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To: SeekAndFind
.

.

24 posted on 11/25/2012 7:57:38 AM PST by Jeff Chandler (www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpAOwJvTOio)
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To: Bronco_Buster_FweetHyagh

Notice how in one sentence it tries to say that the desire for healthy alternatives was not to blame. But then turns around and pairs this needed modernization along with expanding their offerings.

I’ve heard this same code lingo from liberal friends who used to criticize McDonald’s. I guess Hostess should have made a Vegetable brick available and McDonald’s should make the McVeggie. With McDonad’s and Hostess you DO have a choice; it’s called the gas pedal.

What expanded offerings did they need? They had everything from Twinkies to Ho-Hos to powdered donuts? Were they supposed to make processors for intel?


25 posted on 11/25/2012 7:58:35 AM PST by CommieCutter
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To: CommieCutter
I am so sick of the CEO getting a raise argument.

I have no problem with the founder of a company paying himself whatever he wants. After all, the founder took all the risks, and should get all the rewards.

But I do have a problem with the CEO's who stuff the company's board with lackeys. The CEO makes sure the lackeys get paid $100,000 each to meet a couple of times a year, and the lackeys make sure the CEO's get obscene raises.

Union mindless greed can destroy a company. But so can CEO mindless greed. Sure, the union greed costs more. But the CEO greed tends to destroy the morale of the company.

26 posted on 11/25/2012 7:59:03 AM PST by Leaning Right
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To: SeekAndFind
modernization=automation, like the unions would ever stand for that...
27 posted on 11/25/2012 7:59:39 AM PST by Chode (American Hedonist - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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To: SeekAndFind

It was a joint effort, bad management and bad unions killed Hostess, a company, that with even mediocre management, should have been making money hand over fist.

But it was a union that administered the killing blow.


28 posted on 11/25/2012 7:59:49 AM PST by GreenLanternCorps
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To: rhombus
Same crap we had to listen to about Detroit.... it wasn’t the unions but bad management. That should be the union motto.

True for Detroit and most big cities. How many of these failing governments routinely elect small government conservatives to leadership positions (and I don't mean just Republicans but conservatives)?

29 posted on 11/25/2012 7:59:57 AM PST by YankeeReb
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To: CommieCutter
THE FULL STORY HERE :

Hostess, which had been contributing $100 million a year in pension costs for workers, offered workers a new contract that would've slashed that to $25 million a year, in addition to wage cuts and a 17 percent reduction in health benefits. The baker's union rejected the offer and decided to strike.

Rayburn said that Hostess was already operating on razor thin margins and that the strike was the final blow. The baker's union said the company's demise was the result of mismanagement, not the strike. It pointed to the steep raises executives were given last year as the company was spiraling down toward bankruptcy.
One of the pieces of information circulated to support the latter point of view was the claim that several Hostess executives received hefty pay raises even as the company was preparing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, raises which included a tripling of then-Hostess CEO Brian Driscoll's salary. Court filings and company statements indicate that Hostess did approve large salary increases for its top executives, but how much additional pay those executives may actually have received is unclear, as many of them subsequently left the company, renounced some or all of their raises, or agreed to steep pay cuts.

According to an April 2012 report by the Wall Street Journal, Hostess' creditors claimed that in July 2011 the company had manipulated executive pay by approving large salary increases for top executives (in place of performance-based bonuses) in order to skirt bankruptcy rules:
Creditors of Hostess Brands Inc. said in court papers the company may have "manipulated" its executives' salaries higher in the months leading up to its Chapter 11 filing, in what the creditors called a possible effort by Hostess to "sidestep" Bankruptcy Code compensation provisions.

The committee representing Hostess's unsecured creditors alleges that information it has gathered suggests "the possibility" that the company converted a chunk of its top executives' pay from performance-based bonuses to salary, "at least in part to sidestep" rules designed to ensure that companies in bankruptcy aren't enticing their employees to stay on board with the promise of cash, according to documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, N.Y.
A Hostess spokesman asserted that the raises in question were routine ones based on merit rather than manipulation:
According to the creditors' court papers, lawyers for Hostess maintain that modifications to compensation before a filing aren't subject to the bankruptcy provision regarding incentive compensation.

A spokesman for Hostess said the company doesn't believe the creditors' "theory has any basis in law." He said the executives' salaries were increased at a routine compensation review "to align them with industry standards and because the executives were being asked to take on significant additional responsibilities associated with trying to restructure the company outside of bankruptcy proceedings."
That article also provided a chart of Hostess executive salary raises which had been approved the previous July, while noting that court documents stated CEO Brian Driscoll had "renounced a portion of the increase":

Salary Increases at Hostess

Brian Driscoll, CEO, around $750,000 to $2,550,000
Gary Wandschneider, EVP, $500,000 to $900,000
John Stewart, EVP, $400,000 to $700,000
David Loeser, EVP, $375,000 to $656,256
Kent Magill, EVP, $375,000 to $656,256
Richard Seban, EVP, $375,000 to $656,256
John Akeson, SVP, $300,000 to $480,000
Steven Birgfeld, SVP, $240,000 to $360,000
Martha Ross, SVP, $240,000 to $360,000
Rob Kissick, SVP, $182,000 to $273,008
 

Five days after that article was published, the Wall Street Journal reported that Hostess' new CEO, Gregory F. Rayburn, had announced he was slashing executive compensation, and that the company's top four executives had temporarily agreed to cut their annual salaries to $1 while four other executives had agreed to return to their previous salary levels:
The chief executive of Hostess Brands Inc. said he is slashing executive compensation in the aftermath of creditor allegations that the company may have pushed management's salaries higher in the months leading up to its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in an effort to skirt bankruptcy rules.

Gregory F. Rayburn, a restructuring expert who took the helm at Hostess last month, said in an interview that the top four executives working under him had agreed to cut their annual salaries to $1 until the company emerges from bankruptcy or Dec. 31, whichever comes first. The executives — Gary Wandschneider, John Stewart, David Loeser and Richard Seban — had seen their salaries increase by 75% to 80% last July, at a time when the baking company had already hired restructuring lawyers, according to creditors.

Further down the totem pole at the Twinkie maker, four additional executives agreed to return to the salaries they were receiving before the July increase.

CLICK ABOVE LINK FOR THE REST...

30 posted on 11/25/2012 8:01:03 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: Rennes Templar

“(No Modernization for Past 10 Years)”

Any modernization was automation removing more workers and the unions fought it. They would be like teachers sitting in rooms all day doing nothing.


31 posted on 11/25/2012 8:01:12 AM PST by edcoil (It is not over until I win.)
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To: SeekAndFind

“It failed because the people that ran it had no idea what they were doing. Every other excuse is just an attempt by the guilty to blame someone else.”

What was it that Hillary said about “I can’t be held responsib for every undercapitalized business...”

Hostess may have been poorly run but corporate taxes and various regulations distort the choices made by company managers. A common theme is the lack of reinvesting in plant & equipment.


32 posted on 11/25/2012 8:05:42 AM PST by Tallguy (Hunkered down in Pennsylvania.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Well,then.. a struggling company is dead, 18,500 employees are without jobs and the union made its point... so I guess it`s a win-win for everyone....somehow.


33 posted on 11/25/2012 8:08:40 AM PST by ScottinVA (I've never been more disgusted with American voters.)
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To: SeekAndFind

It failed because the people that ran it had no idea what they were doing. Every other excuse is just an attempt by the guilty to blame someone else.
So you’re saying that this was a “Goodfellas” style bust out?


34 posted on 11/25/2012 8:10:29 AM PST by Tallguy (Hunkered down in Pennsylvania.)
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To: SeekAndFind

I believe the headline states the truth but only by accident. The idiot union members need to learn a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush, but the retard “managers” who pulled out 100K a month ought to be banned from corporate leadership for life


35 posted on 11/25/2012 8:13:29 AM PST by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: SeekAndFind

The Bankruptcy court, told the unions to take the deal or leave it.
Company management had no say in that part of the matter.

The number of unions and insurance companies, combined with the wide array of contracts involved, made comprehensive, economical management, impossible.

The unions got what the deserved.

I hope the businesses buying the assets only operate in right to work states.


36 posted on 11/25/2012 8:14:24 AM PST by G Larry (Which of Obama's policies do you think I'd support if he were white?)
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To: yldstrk

RE: a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush

Why not cage the bird in hand first, and at the same time pursue the other two in the bush?


37 posted on 11/25/2012 8:16:23 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

This article is complete garbage.


38 posted on 11/25/2012 8:17:02 AM PST by californian by choice
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To: SeekAndFind

exactly, instead, the union killed them all


39 posted on 11/25/2012 8:19:53 AM PST by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: DManA
But management AGREED to every one of those ridiculous conditions. They’ve got to take some responsibility for that.

Yes - like GM which cannot fail but to head back down the path to failure due to it's letting Uncle SugarBama into it's business. Got some new life, but the unions still wield too much power.

40 posted on 11/25/2012 8:21:01 AM PST by trebb (Allies no longer trust us. Enemies no longer fear us.)
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To: CommieCutter

Most everything Hiltzik writes is utter garbage. Just another leftist masquerading as a journalist.


41 posted on 11/25/2012 8:27:16 AM PST by mgstarr ("Some of us drink because we're not poets." Arthur (1981))
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To: rhombus
Same crap we had to listen to about Detroit.... it wasn’t the unions but bad management.

Waiting to see who they blame when GM goes bankrupt again.....

42 posted on 11/25/2012 8:30:53 AM PST by tacticalogic ("Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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To: SeekAndFind

“It failed because the people that ran it had no idea what they were doing. Every other excuse is just an attempt by the guilty to blame someone else. “

interesting. I suggest that what is being proposed is that every union company be turned over to the unions (just like GM) because obviously nobody else could possibly “know what they are doing”

That the real message here. Facts don’t matter.


43 posted on 11/25/2012 8:31:29 AM PST by RFEngineer
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To: SeekAndFind

It’s tough to find money for capital improvements when you are losing $300 million per year.


44 posted on 11/25/2012 8:33:46 AM PST by PGR88
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To: SeekAndFind

It’s tough to find money for capital improvements when you are losing $300 million per year.


45 posted on 11/25/2012 8:33:46 AM PST by PGR88
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To: SeekAndFind

You mean it wasn’t that the unions demanded different drivers for different products going to the same places which robbed the company of funds needed to modernize? Let’s not forget that the union most likely fought modernization as that usually results in more automation and less workers. I refuse to believe any union thug would be for more automation.


46 posted on 11/25/2012 8:37:22 AM PST by CodeToad (Liberals are bloodsucking ticks. We need to light the matchstick to burn them off.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Union dues paid by employee were over $2 million each year. I bet $2 million could modernize a big part of a bakery nicely.


47 posted on 11/25/2012 8:38:39 AM PST by CodeToad (Liberals are bloodsucking ticks. We need to light the matchstick to burn them off.)
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To: SeekAndFind
It didn't fail because its unions wanted it to die.

Straw man argument. Nobody has claimed that the unions wanted it to die. They wanted it to richly featherbed their salaries and their retirement, forever.

48 posted on 11/25/2012 8:38:44 AM PST by coloradan (The US has become a banana republic, except without the bananas - or the republic.)
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To: SeekAndFind

About a year ago, I saw a show on The Food Network about convenient snacks. It said Little Debbie haa a much greater market than Hostess, because their manufacturing was much more efficient, so they could sell for less.

It could be that Hostess’ management was unable to take advantage of modern manufacturing methods that would have allowed them to operate more efficiently and that contributed to their apparent demise.

Maybe in Mexico they’ll be able to make a profit and keep people employed


49 posted on 11/25/2012 8:42:19 AM PST by be-baw (still seeking)
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To: SeekAndFind
"It's true that the company had done almost nothing in the last 10 years to modernize or expand its offerings."

Coming from the LAT, that's rich! Haw haw haw!

50 posted on 11/25/2012 8:42:28 AM PST by StAnDeliver (Own It.)
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