A Union Killed Hostess— but Not the One You Think

Holman Jenkins thinks the Teamsters are to blame for the Twinkie-maker's exit
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2012 1:25 PM CST
A Union Killed Hostess— but Not the One You Think
A Hostess Wonder Bread truck is parked in front of the Utah Hostess plant in Ogden, Utah, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

What killed Hostess? Don't believe the people blaming private equity or America's changing tastes. Labor was the real culprit, writes Holman Jenkins at the Wall Street Journal, but don't blame the striking bakery union, which is, at worst, "guilty of perfectly justifiable attempted homicide." No, the real problem was the Teamsters. The bakers wouldn't budge because, as they "rightly saw it, they were being asked once more to prop up Teamster jobs." Hostess' bakery operations were actually pretty efficient. But its distribution was a mess.

Drivers weren't allowed to help load or unload shipments. Wonder Bread and Twinkies had to travel in separate trucks. The company was, it said in court, "unable to profit from many of their existing delivery stops," or to enter juicy markets like vending machines or movie theaters. Bakery jobs, meanwhile, "have become crummy-paying thanks to previous givebacks," and Hostess already planned bakery closures. So bakers decided to let the company liquidate and try their luck with new owners—even if it meant "throwing their Teamster brethren under a bus." Read the full column here. (More Teamsters stories.)

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