Union Members Shoot Selves in the Twinkies®

Twinkies® survived through more than eight decades, through good times and bad, but the junk food icon just couldn’t survive the reckless and destructive policies of Barack Obama and the mindset of the bakers union people who support him.  A news release from the Hostess Brands website tells the sad tale.

Hostess Brands is Closed.

We are sorry to announce that Hostess Brands, Inc. has been forced by a Bakers Union strike to shut down all operations and sell all company assets. For more information, go to hostessbrands.info. Thank you for all of your loyalty and support over the years.

HOSTESS BRANDS TO WIND DOWN COMPANY AFTER BCTGM UNION STRIKE CRIPPLES OPERATIONS

Friday, November 16, 2012 at 7:00AM

Irving, TX – November 16, 2012 – Hostess Brands Inc. today announced that it is winding down operations and has filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeking permission to close its business and sell its assets, including its iconic brands and facilities. Bakery operations have been suspended at all plants. Delivery of products will continue and Hostess Brands retail stores will remain open for several days in order to sell already-baked products.

The Board of Directors authorized the wind down of Hostess Brands to preserve and maximize the value of the estate after one of the Company’s largest unions, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), initiated a nationwide strike that crippled the Company’s ability to produce and deliver products at multiple facilities.

On Nov. 12, Hostess Brands permanently closed three plants as a result of the work stoppage. On Nov. 14, the Company announced it would be forced to liquidate if sufficient employees did not return to work to restore normal operations by 5 p.m., EST p.m., Nov. 15. The Company determined on the night of Nov. 15 that an insufficient number of employees had returned to work to enable the restoration of normal operations.

The BCTGM in September rejected a last, best and final offer from Hostess Brands designed to lower costs so that the Company could attract new financing and emerge from Chapter 11. Hostess Brands then received Court authority on Oct. 3 to unilaterally impose changes to the BCTGM’s collective bargaining agreements.

Hostess Brands is unprofitable under its current cost structure, much of which is determined by union wages and pension costs. The offer to the BCTGM included wage, benefit and work rule concessions but also gave Hostess Brands’ 12 unions a 25 percent ownership stake in the company, representation on its Board of Directors and $100 million in reorganized Hostess Brands’ debt.

“We deeply regret the necessity of today’s decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike,” said Gregory F. Rayburn, chief executive officer. “Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders.”

In addition to dozens of baking and distribution facilities around the country, Hostess Brands will sell its popular brands, including Hostess®, Drakes® and Dolly Madison®, which make iconic cake products such as Twinkies®, CupCakes, Ding Dongs®, Ho Ho’s®, Sno Balls® and Donettes®. Bread brands to be sold include Wonder®, Nature’s Pride ®, Merita®, Home Pride®, Butternut®, and Beefsteak®, among others.

The wind down means the closure of 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes and 570 bakery outlet stores throughout the United States.

The Company said its debtor-in-possession lenders have agreed to allow the Company to continue to have access to the $75 million financing facility put in place at the start of the bankruptcy cases to fund the sale and wind down process, subject to U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval.

The Company’s motion asks the Court for authority to continue to pay employees whose services are required during the wind-down period.

For employees whose jobs will be eliminated, additional information can be found at hostessbrands.info. The website also contains information for customers and vendors. Most employees who lose their jobs should be eligible for government-provided unemployment benefits.

Bob McCarty is the author of “Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice,” a nonfiction book that’s available in paperback and ebook via most online booksellers, including Amazon.com. His second book, “The CLAPPER MEMO,” is set for release this fall.

Video Tells Story of Union Solidarity Protest Rally

Tonight, I simply had to share the Rebel Pundit video below that features conversations with and observations of attendees at a recent “We Are One” union solidarity protest rally held in Chicago.

Did you notice who attended the rally? Members of radical, anti-American labor unions and political parties.  Watch and share, people, before it’s too late!

Hat tip: The video appeared in a post today at Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com.

If you enjoy this blog and want to keep reading stories like the one above, show your support by using the “Support Bob” tool at right. Thanks in advance for your support!

Candidate Demands ‘Freedom to Have Barbecues’ (Update)

“I think we need the freedom to have barbecues,” said Cynthia Davis during a telephone interview Sunday.

If you think it sounds crazy for Davis, a former state representative now serving as chair of the St. Charles County (Mo.) Republican Party, to stake her claim on the right to have a barbecue without government interference, you don’t know the half of it!

On Saturday, Davis hosted her “First Barbecue of the Spring” on the lawn in front of the Back to Basics Christian Bookstore which she owns and operates with her husband, Bernie, and several of her seven children in O’Fallon, Mo.  On the menu of food items offered to invited guests was dangerously-delicious meat from T-Bones Natural Meats, suspiciously-sumptuous cakes from Susie G’s Specialty Cakes and — OMG! — chips and salsa from Chevy’s Fresh Mex®.

Though several dozen people attended the early-afternoon event, Davis did not expect Rick Etherington, an environmental public health specialist from the St. Charles County Health Department, to be among them.  But he showed up, explaining that he was there in response to the health department receiving calls about the barbecue on Thursday and again on Saturday.

Davis and others at the event agreed that Etherington was polite and only doing his job.  It appears, however, that he was being used by someone as a pawn in a thinly-veiled effort to shut down Davis’ event and, in turn, hurt her chances of winning a seat on the board of the St. Charles County Ambulance District during elections April 5.

The ambulance district? I know, it might seem unimportant, but keep reading and you’ll understand why the matter caught my attention.

Etherington spent about an hour  at the event, according to Davis, but did not shut it down.  Instead, he allowed her to send a representative to the health department when it opened for business Monday morning to obtain a no-cost, after-the-fact permit for the event.

Two days after the event, one question remains:  Who would want to disrupt an invitation-only barbecue on private property by calling out a health department inspector who, I’m told by one local restaurant industry insider, almost never works weekends?

All the arrows seem to point to the ambulance district paramedics represented by the Professional Firefighters of Eastern Missouri IAFF Local 2665and for good reason.

Fresh on the heels of contract negotiations that ended with them faring pretty well (i.e., their wages were frozen and they lost one vacation day per year) despite a bad economy, those union paramedics don’t want a person like Davis on the board when their next round of salary negotiations with the ambulance district begins in 2012.  After all, she states in her campaign literature that “She’ll ask the tough questions.”

Somewhat surprising to anyone unfamiliar with the first-responder agency is that it serves a county population of more than 350,000, according to the ambulance district’s web site.  In addition, it’s board members are responsible for a 2010 budget that almost certainly exceeds the prior year which ended with expenses totaling more than $21 million and revenues at $8.1 million, according to the SCCAD’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the year ended Dec. 31, 2009 available online.

Below are more interesting facts about the ambulance district:

The ambulance district’s board chair is Mark Fenton, a retired paramedic who once represented paramedics on the union side of the table during contract negotiations;

The ambulance district had to borrow $1.4 million in September 2010 just to meet payroll, according to Davis;

The district that was sued in November 2009 for hiring union contractors for their construction projects rather than selecting the lowest bidder; and

On Jan. 24, 2010, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that members of the paramedics’ union were at the center of a firestorm that resulted in allegations of union influence, threats and back-room deals on the normally-quiet board.

So, is it worth paying attention to who you elect to little-talked-about county government-level boards?  You betcha, especially if you’re a conservative politician — even an 85-year-old “Potato Lady” — thinking about hosting a barbecue for friends!

UPDATE 3/21/11 at 6:39 p.m. Central: Cross-posted at Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com.

UPDATE 4/4/11 at 4:32 p.m. Central: A source close to the local firefighters union — but not a member himself — tells me that members of the local are not working against Davis.  Instead, he’s been told, anti-Davis efforts seem to be coming out of Kansas City and that neither the IAFF Local 2665 nor the Jim Ottomeyer campaign sent it out.

UPDATE 5/9/11 at 8:48 p.m. Central: Maybe the union wasn’t working against Davis in this race, but they sure weren’t working for her.  Fifteen days after the election, according to an article published today in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Ottomeyer reported in a campaign disclosure report that he received $16,523 from the St. Charles County Paramedics Association.

FYI: If you enjoy this blog and want to keep reading stories like the one above, show your support by using the “Support Bob” tool at right. Thanks in advance for your support!

Watch This Before Your Next School Board Election

If you need proof of just how off balance the leaders of the National Education Association are, watch the 2009 video below which features NEA General Counsel Bob Chanin in a moment of candor — and boldness — discussing why he believes the NEA is so effective.

Below is an excerpt of Chanin’s speech in case you want to copy and share it:

“Despite what some among us would like to believe, it is not because of our creative ideas.  It is not because of the merits of our position.  It is not because we care about children, and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child.  NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates, because we have power.  And we have power, because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year because they believe that we are the union that can most effectively represent them, the union that can protect their rights and advance their interests as education employees.”

Next time you go to vote for members of your local school board, make sure you know where each candidate stands when it comes to the NEA and vote as if your future depends upon it, because it does! Why? Because the 3.2-million-member union promotes ideology, policies and programs detrimental to the education of the nation’s children and the future of the nation itself.

FYI: If you enjoy this blog and want to keep reading stories like the one above, show your support by using the “Support Bob” tool at right. Thanks in advance for your support!

Labor Union Desperate to Save Phil Hare’s Seat

If you saw the front page of the latest edition of QUAD CITIES LABOR NEWS, you probably noticed an article under the headline, WHAT’S WITH ALL THE BILLBOARDS? Unfortunately, the article beneath the headline fails to offer a truthful answer to the question and, in fact, stinks of desperation.

The article begins with the following inaccurate description of the nonprofit group behind the placement of election-focused billboards in the Quad Cities area:

Perhaps you’ve seen them.  They disparage Phil Hare while saying little about who is paying for them.  The group behind the billboards on 11th Ave. in Rock Island and River Drive in Moline is a front group for Bobby Schilling called Veterans4Schilling.

In the remaining paragraphs of the labor union rag, truth seems to be an afterthought.

In the second paragraph, for example, it’s claimed that “The Federal Election Commission has already filed a complain against Veterans4Schilling for unethical practices” and it’s alleged that the group changed its name to Veterans4Constitution after the complaint was filed.

First, everyone knows the Federal Election Commission did not file any complaints.  It was an operative of Hare — one James L. Moody — who filed the Aug. 27 complaint with the FEC.  Second, one needs only read the complaint to see that Moody directed his “beef” at Veterans 4 Constitution, not Veterans 4 Schilling.

As for the claim that appears in the third paragraph (i.e., that none of the Republican candidates endorsed by the veterans group were veterans), I’d love to find out why Robert Enriquez, the GOP candidate for Illinois Secretary of State, doesn’t qualify as a veteran in the eyes of the labor folks.  After all, he served as a Marine Corps officer and completed two overseas tours.

Perhaps the largest omission in the article — and in all of Hare’s campaign literature/advertising for that matter — is the fact that Republican Bobby Schilling is no stranger to labor unions.  Not only did he serve as a union steward for Local 191 of the United Paperworkers International Union from 1983-87, but he served as treasurer for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union from 1987-95.  In short, he understands how unions work.

U.S. Rep. Phil Hare (D-Ill.)

Now, back to the matter of those billboards.

In short, the billboard messages paint Hare in the light of truth and are based on a number of incidents involving the the 17th Congressional District’s incumbent Democrat.  Below are some examples:

1. On Dec. 15, Hare sided with the Obama Administration when he told a national television audience that terrorists at GITMO should be moved to Thomson, Ill.;

2. On April 1, Hare was captured on video saying, “I Don’t Worry About the Constitution”;

3. Four months ago, Hare reportedly told one of his aides to follow a constituent and get his license plate number so he could find out who he was;

4. On Aug. 27, Hare had one of his operatives file a complaint against Veterans4Constitution;

5. During a Labor Day parade in East Moline, Ill., he told a local television reporter he had received death threats, but never filed a police report, leading many to believe he was seeking sympathy; and

6. Throughout the campaign season, Hare has upset veterans by calling himself a veteran despite the fact that “veteran” status is, according to the federal government, “reserved for a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable.”

UPDATE 10/04/10 at 11:05 a.m. Central: Cross-posted at BigGovernment.com.

One Battle Ends, Another Begins for Salon Owner (Update)

After seeing the U.S. economy start to dive during the summer of 2008, Teresa Pershall decided it was time to downsize her business and prepare for the long, tough economic road ahead.  She had, after all, seen this type of thing before.  In Vietnam.  Decades earlier.

Teresa Pershall says her nail salon is suffering.

In 1980, Teresa — then known by her Vietnamese name, Thi Nguyen — found herself standing in a rice field holding two little babies and asking herself, “What do I do now?”  Her only answer at the time was to work.  And work hard.  Twenty hours a day was not uncommon.

Only a few years earlier, the Viet Cong had taken over South Vietnam and seized her  family’s property.  Teresa’s husband and many of her family members were able to flee the country, but she remained behind to take care of her two elderly parents and her two babies by herself.  Many others she had known simply disappeared after being taken away by armed men from the new regime.  She did not want the same to happen to her children and her parents.

Asked to describe what it was like to live under communism, she said, “It’s a really wonderful life for people who work for the government and a really horrible life for those who work outside the government.”

Comparing government officials to “sticks” who are willing to cover up for each other and accept mediocrity as long as it allows them to enrich themselves, she went on to highlight corruption as one of the biggest problems she saw in Vietnam.

“One stick, you can break it,” she said. “One chopstick, you can break it.  But one-hundred chopsticks, you cannot break.”

In other words, it’s hard to get rid of crooked politicians once corruption becomes the norm.

In 1990, Teresa managed to arrange for her daughter Kim, then 11, to flee Vietnam on a boat bound for Indonesia and, eventually, to the United States.  Kim spent the next two years in Indonesia, under the care of a woman her mother barely knew, before finally making it to the U.S.

During the decade of the ‘90s, Teresa and her first husband divorced, she gave birth to another child by her second husband — a marriage that didn’t work out — and both of her parents died.  Despite the tumult in her life, she continued to work hard and kept her focus on escaping communist rule.

In 1999, Teresa managed to get Sion Son, her then-19-year-old son, to the U.S.

The following year, she made the extremely difficult decision to leave the country of her birth.  At the same time, she left her second son Don, then 4, in the care of a close family friend as she set out for the United States.

Though separated by thousands of miles, Teresa did not forget about Don.  As often as possible, she sent money to the family caring for Don, doing all she could to help them survive.  And she taught herself English.

Four years later, Teresa’s life began to take a turn for the better.

In late summer 2003, she and Kim opened B Nails, a high-end nail salon in O’Fallon, Mo., just west of St. Louis.  A few months later, she met Craig Pershall, then a sign salesman.  A whirlwind three-month relationship followed, and they were married in January 2004.

In 2006, Teresa earned her U.S. citizenship and, with money saved for several years to pay for the trip, she returned to Vietnam in 2008 to get her son, Don, then 13.

At that point, one might think Teresa’s troubles were over.  She was, in her own words, “In Heaven” knowing she had freed all of her children from the bondage of communism and brought them together in a land of boundless opportunities.  Little did she know, however, that new struggles awaited her.

In the summer of 2008, the U.S. economy began to show signs of trouble.  Having seen similar circumstances following the communist takeover in Vietnam more than 30 years earlier, Teresa knew she should downsize.  After all, a future with high unemployment and inflation would render her current business model untenable.

After Teresa heard candidate Barack Obama talk about hot-button issues such as unemployment, health care reform, same-sex marriage and abortion, she said she knew he was going to win:  “100 percent.  He wins!” She also sensed a sea change in the country’s immediate future.

According to husband Craig,  Teresa told many friends and customers, “You’re going to be communist within 10 years,” after she heard Obama speak on the campaign trail.

Despite the ominous feeling that tough times awaited them, Craig helped his wife relocate her nail salon in September 2008, moving it from its location near the intersection of Highway K and Mexico Road in O’Fallon, Mo., to Dollar Tree Plaza, a small strip shopping center in nearby St. Peters.

Located at the intersection of Mexico Road and Grand Teton Drive, the new location boasts fewer stations — three instead of 11 — than her previous shop but enabled her to reduce her overhead costs while still providing employment for as many as five people.

Many of her customers were willing to follow her to St. Peters, she said, because they appreciated the extra attention to detail they could find in her shop that wasn’t available in many others.  Plus, they knew she wouldn’t cut corners and often took up to two hours or more per customer to achieve the top-notch results they loved so much.  Soon after the relocation, however, something unexpected — and not directly related to the economy — took place at the shopping center.

Members of the Carpenters’ District Council of Greater St. Louis and Vicinity began stationing themselves at all three entrances to the shopping center’s parking lot.  Why?  Because they were miffed that the national discount retailer, Dollar Tree — the anchor tenant at the shopping center — used out-of-state labor to perform labor tasks at some of their stores in the St. Louis area.

Though union members refer to the matter a “labor dispute,” it appears to be an effort to drive the national retail chain out of business or, at a minimum, out of town.  Regardless of how one describes it, the result is a situation in which carpenters and nails find themselves at odds.

For an appointment, call 636-397-5555.

During a visit to B Nails early this month during what should have been a busy weekday afternoon, Teresa and Craig told me they had experienced a 75 percent decline in walk-in traffic (mostly female customers) compared to the previous year.  Though they did not share their financial records with me, the fact that our two-hour conversation went uninterrupted — that is, not a single customer entered the store while I was there — had me convinced they were telling the truth.

During a second afternoon visit this week, I spent another hour inside the store sans customers.  Hmmm?

Many of her customers, according to Teresa, are afraid to cross what appears to be a union picket line because many of them come from union households.  Others are simply intimidated by the presence of men at the entrances.  Without enough customers, Teresa has been forced to lay off three employees — people with absolutely no ties to Dollar Tree.

Hesitant to paint this as a battle between a labor union and a small business, Teresa and Craig only wish the Carpenters’ District Council would consider using different, less-confrontational tactics, ones that cause less collateral damage to other businesses, in their campaign against Dollar Tree.

“I love everybody,” Teresa said.  “Even if you hurt me, I still love you.”

I, for one, believe it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Teresa and Craig changed their minds about maintaining their anonymity after I published my first post, Carpenters’ District Council Campaign Against Dollar Tree Killing Another Small Business, about their situation.  They decided they had too much at stake — both as business owners and as citizens of this great country — for them to remain in the shadows.  Also, in case you’re wondering about Teresa’s children, they turned out well:  Kim, 31, works as a dental hygienist in Houston and is studying to be a dentist; Sion Son, 29, graduated from the University of Missouri-Rolla two years ago and is working as an engineer supervisor for a major agricultural company; and Don, 15, is an honor student at a local high school.

UPDATE 8/20/10 at 9:35 a.m. Central: Tune in to The Dana Show on St. Louis’ 97.1 FM News Talk at 2:35 p.m. Central today for a discussion of this story.  It should be lively.  To call in, dial 314-969-9797.  To listen, click the “LISTEN LIVE” button on the station’s home page.

UPDATE 8/20/10 at 3:16 p.m. Central: Cross-posted at BigGovernment.com.

UDPATE 9/8/10 at 10:55 p.m. Central: See Talk Show Host Brings Friends to Nail Salon.

Carpenters’ District Council Campaign Against Dollar Tree Killing Another Small Business (Update)

For more than a year now, the Carpenters’ District Council of Greater St. Louis and Vicinity has taken aim at Dollar Tree stores in nearly two-dozen shopping centers across the metro.  Why?  Because they’re miffed about the national discount retailer’s decision to use out-of-state labor to perform labor tasks at their stores.

Though union members refer to the matter a “labor dispute,” it appears to be an effort to drive the national retail chain out of business — or, at a minimum, out of town.

To help get their points across, they’ve been positioning people at the street entrances of each shopping center and having them share a stinging message — SHAME ON DOLLAR TREE — with as many people as possible as they drive into the shopping center parking lots.  That message appears on one-page handbills featuring the stop sign graphic above right and is eagerly shared in conversation.  It is joined by other messages on the handbills which appear below without edits:

DOLLAR TREE contracted work to an OUT OF STATE CONTRACTOR, who paid wages and fringe benefits that are below established area standards.

“What’s the matter with this picture”

Missouri has the highest rate of unemployment in almost 30 years, but DOLLAR TREE contracts work to a contractor from out of state.  Yet they still want local people to shop at DOLLAR TREE.

The handbills also contained statements imploring union supporters to “Let them know you disagree by calling the District Manager at (phone number)” and to “Shop with local retailers who appreciate the local workforce.”

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

Now, let’s look at the devastating impact (i.e., the unintended consequences) the union’s campaign has had on owners of business located in the same shopping centers as Dollar Tree outlets.

During a recent visit to one such business during what should have been a busy weekday afternoon, the owners — who asked not to be identified in this post — told me they had experienced a 75 percent decline in walk-in traffic (mostly female customers) compared to the previous year.

Though they did not share their financial records with me, the fact that our two-hour conversation went uninterrupted — that is, not a single customer entered the store while I was there — had me convinced they were telling the truth.

According to the husband and wife who own the shop, their loyal customers are afraid to cross what appears to be a union picket line because many of them come from union households.  Without customers, they had to let people go.  In turn, they’ve been forced to lay off three employees — people with absolutely no ties to Dollar Tree.

COSTS & PRODUCTIVITY

At each of three Dollar Tree locations I visited while researching this piece, I encountered as many as five picketers stationed at multiple entrances to the shopping centers.  The union folks I spoke with at the Dollar Tree location near I-70 and Zumbehl Road told me they believe the decision makers at Dollar Tree should have opted to use local union labor and pay around $26 an hour for the service.  But are they right?

Click to read IBJ article.

Because I was unable to reach anyone at CDC or Dollar Tree for comment, I turned to something I saw written about Terry Nelson, a senior official with the CDC, for help in getting to the heart of this dispute.

According to a piece in the May 2010 edition of the Illinois Business Journal, Nelson admitted that it costs 28 percent more to construct a building in St. Louis than it does to erect the exact same building in Chicago. The reason he cited for the difference:  Lack of productivity of the St. Louis building trades workforce.

If Dollar Tree had opted to hire local union workers at their going rate, they would have had to pass along the increased labor costs to their customers, many of whom do not earn $30 an hour.  By hiring less-costly out-of-state non-union workers instead, Dollar Tree was able to keep their overhead costs down and, in turn, save their customers money.

YOU DECIDE

Is anyone at fault in this situation?

  • Are small business owners at fault for choosing to locate their businesses in the same shopping centers as Dollar Tree outlets?
  • Are the folks at Dollar Tree at fault for opting to keep their overhead costs down — and passing the savings along to customers — by contracting with less-expensive out-of-state labor sources? or
  • Are the folks at the Carpenters’ District Council at fault for thinking they deserve to get every construction contract that comes along because they are “local” — even if they represent the most-expensive option available to Dollar Tree?

My hope is that the CDC will change the tactics being used in their labor dispute with Dollar Tree so that small business owners, like the one highlighted above, can survive in this tough economy and not have to lay off any more workers or, even worse, close the doors of their business.

UPDATE 8/20/10 at 9:38 a.m. Central: Tune in to The Dana Show on St. Louis’ 97.1 FM News Talk at 2:35 p.m. Central today for a discussion of this story and the follow-up to it (“One Battle Ends, Another Begins for Salon Owner“) published last night.  It should be lively.  To call in, dial 314-969-9797.  To listen, click the “LISTEN LIVE” button on the station’s home page.