Illinois Factory Where Twinkies Were Invented to Close
400 employees affected, were on the cusp of new labor agreement
Time to stock up on Twinkies, Illinois residents. You may remember how the iconic, cream-filled dessert went off the market in 2012, when manufacturer Hostess Brands filed for bankruptcy. They returned eight months later, but apparently, so did the company's financial troubles. Now, the bakery where the sweets were invented is due to shut down in October.
Workers were informed of the Schiller Park bakery's closure over Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, the same day union leaders were set to negotiate a new labor agreement. "Many competitors took over the shelves and are tenaciously defending their business and thus we must be highly efficient and technologically advanced to compete," Hostess Brands CEO Bill Toler said in a statement. "As a result, we have invested in more efficient production capabilities and need to streamline our manufacturing infrastructure and protect our ability to compete." The decision will affect about 400 employees, 280 of which had recently voted to unionize. Union members make around $15 an hour; Donald Woods, president of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 1, told the Chicago Tribune the news of the closure was "devastating."
Twinkies were invented at the Illinois bakery in 1930. Hostess closed all of its bakeries in late 2012, including the one in Schiller Park, but reopened them eight months later when private equity firms bought Hostess and its brands for $410 million. The bankruptcy leading to the original closures was the result of a national strike over a contract that cut employee wages by eight percent.
When the plants reopened--four, down from the original 11--those who returned did so without a union backing. Employees of the Schiller Bakery told the Chicago Tribune they have been working 12-hour days in two shifts. While Woods said that some workers may be able to find positions at another facility in Indiana, which is remaining open, it's unclear how many jobs are actually available.
A Hostess spokeswoman said that the affected employees would receive severance packages along with outplacement services. Twinkies will remain on store shelves despite the bakery's closure.