​Hostess Managers 75 Percent ‘Bonus Plan’ To Help Close Company

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November 22, 2012
Also: Bankruptcy, Hostess Brands, Hostess Managers 75 Percent, Teamsters Union, U.S. Department of Justice

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Hostess Brands is looking to give their managers a bonus of up to 75 percent of their annual pay so they will stay on and help close down the company, but the U.S. Trustee, an agent of the U.S. Department of Justice, said the plan for bonuses was improper.

The U.S. Trustee, Tracy Hope Davis, planned to ask New York Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Drain at Monday’s afternoon hearing to appoint an independent trustee to oversee the sales of the company’s assets.

Several unions also objected to the company’s plans, saying they made “a mockery” of laws protecting collective bargaining agreements in bankruptcy. The Teamsters, which represents 7,900 Hostess workers, said the company’s plan would improperly cut the ability of remaining workers to use sick days and vacation.

“This would all be aimed at increasing the potential recovery of secured lenders,” said the court filing by the Teamsters.

The company, which employs 18,500, said on Friday its operations had been crippled by a bakers strike and winding down operations was the best way to preserve its dwindling cash. Hostess suspended operations at all of its 33 plants across the United States last week as it moved to start selling assets.

Twinkies, Wonder Bread and the company’s other well-known brands are likely to be sold to rivals, and the money raised used to repay Hostess Brands’ creditors.

Those products, particularly the golden, cream-filled Twinkies cakes, are deeply ingrained in American pop culture and have long been packed in school children’s lunch boxes.

Hostess blamed heavy debt and burdensome wage and pension obligations for its financial woes. It said a strike by members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), which began Nov. 9, was part of a long series of battles between labor and management that contributed to the company’s inability to restructure its finances and produce and deliver products at several facilities.

But union officials and line workers said last week that union workers had already agreed to a series of concessions over the years and the company had failed to invest in brand marketing and modernization of plants and trucks, instead focusing on enriching owners such as private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings and hedge funds Silver Point Capital and Monarch Alternative Capital.