A little liquidation scare is no reason to mess with Twinkies, according to Matt Taibbi.
The Rolling Stone contributor told MSNBC’s Ed Schultz Monday that workers and their “pensions and benefits” are getting the blame for the possible Hostess shutdown instead of the company’s management, who, he says, is actually responsible for the Twinkie-maker’s woes.
“Everybody likes Twinkies, there’s nothing wrong with the product,” Taibbi said. “The workers are doing a good job, they’re putting out a good product -- it’s that management has been incompetent, and it’s unfortunate that the narrative has shifted all the blame to the workers.”
Taibbi's assessment of the situation isn't universal, with many people blaming the company's demise on the American consumer's changing tastes.
Hostess announced Friday that the company planned to liquidate and lay off all of its 18,500 workers, citing an ongoing strike that the company claimed was crippling its operations. On Monday, a bankruptcy judge ordered that Hostess enter into mediation with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, the group representing the striking workers, saying that he had “serious questions as to the logic behind this strike.”
The Teamsters, the other union representing Hostess workers, agreed to major pay and pension cuts in September in an aim to save the company and their jobs, even though they had already taken a hit during the company's first bankruptcy.
Taibbi argued that Hostess’ workers are being forced to take the blame for the poor decisions of the private equity firm that bought the company after its first bankruptcy. The firm, Ripplewood, loaded Hostess with debt, according to The New York Times.
“It’s part of this overall mythology that we have to blame the workers for wanting benefits and wanting a living wage,” he said.
Still, Andrew Ross Sorkin of the NYT defended Ripplewood, saying its founder was trying to make an example out of Hostess by being one of the few private equity firms to work with organized labor to save an iconic American brand.
Whatever the story, there's nothing funny about nearly 20,000 lost jobs.