If your company said it must cut wages and benefits or it will go out of business, would you believe it?
That is really at the crux of the drama that played out over the 10 days surrounding Hostess Brands, the makers of iconic bakery names such as Twinkies, Ho-Hos and Wonder Bread.
That drama hit close to home in the days leading up to the Thanksgiving weekend when stores in Manchester and St. Charles that sell Hostess foods abruptly closed their doors, leaving employees wondering what would happen next.
That came after news that the company could not come to terms with its bakers union.
Without an agreement over 8 percent cuts in wages and 17 percent cuts in benefits, the company said, it would have to shutter its doors and liquidate the business, eliminating 18,000 jobs. That's exactly what it commenced to doing last week, until a bankruptcy judge pushed the parties into mediation.
The head of that union told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday he wasn't optimistic mediation would work "because his members aren’t prepared to take the labor concessions Hostess says it needs to survive."
Then, late Tuesday, news broke (according to a report on CNN Money) that the one-day mediation had failed: "Hostess said in a brief statement that the mediation session 'was unsuccessful,' and that it had no further comment ahead of a hearing scheduled for Wednesday morning in bankruptcy court, where it has requested permission to liquidate."
So back to my question: The company says it won't survive without the cuts. The workers say they won't accept cuts. At what point does someone blink?
At what point do union members have a responsibility to say, "I'd rather have a job, even if it doesn't pay what it used to pay"? Or at what point does the company say, "We have to save the jobs and keep the company running, and find the cuts elsewhere"?