Hostess threatens to lay off 18,000 employees unless strike ends

TULSA - Hostess Brands, Inc. is telling its 18,000 workers to either get back to work by 5 p.m. Thursday or face unemployment.

In a statement found on the company's website , Hostess threatened to "liquidate the entire company if enough striking employees do not return to work" by the given time.

"We simply do not have the financial resources to survive an ongoing national strike," said Gregory F. Rayburn, the Company's Chairman and CEO.

Hostess owns the Wonder Bread plant at 11th and S. Sheridan Road in Tulsa, which employs around 100 people.

Some of them have taken part in a nationwide strike, picketing against a new contract. They say the contract will cut their salaries, pensions and benefits.

"We don't want to see the company close, but this has been forced on us and this is the only way we can get our point across to them that we want a fair contract," said Tulsa-based Wonder Bread employee Monroe Walton.

2NEWS also spoke with Fred Frierson, a business agent for the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which represents Hostess employees.

"If they liquidate, we feel like we could get a better deal with the new people that come in," he said. "Somebody's going to buy it. Somebody's going to pick that volume up that's out there, and we feel like we will be able to come up with a better deal than we've got now."

Tulsa Hostess employees have until 4 p.m. to return to work, as the mandated return was an Eastern Standard Time. If they do not, the company will approach a bankruptcy judge about liquidation on Friday.

In the web release, Hostess detailed its potential liquidation process:

  • Hostess will file a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Friday requesting to wind-down the Company and sell all of its assets
  • Hostess has requested a hearing on the motion for Monday
  • If the motion is granted at this hearing, Hostess Brands will begin to close all of its operations as early as Tuesday. The closures will include the termination of all employees except small, temporary crews to clean, secure and prepare facilities and other assets for sale

The company filed for bankruptcy in January, for the second time since 2004.

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