Flowers Foods Buys Hostess Bakery, Workers Want Jobs Back

Five former Hostess employees, who now work at another bakery and live in a camper 172 miles from home, say they want their jobs back.

hostess strikers

Photo: Shameka Neely/WFIU-WTIU News

Employees strike outside the Hostess plant in Columbus.

A federal bankruptcy judge Tuesday approved the sale of Hostess’ Dolly Madison Bakery in Columbus to Flowers Foods, four months after Hostess shut down.

When Fred Newland was laid off along with thousands of other Hostess workers nationwide, his biggest concern was his pension. He had three more years before he could cash in. So he got a job at another company that had the same pension plan.

“Working for Bimbo Bakeries in Owensboro, Kentucky which is about 172 miles, one way, from my house,” Newland says.

Newland and four other workers are living in a camper in Owensboro while they work part-time. Every few days, they get a day off, time they use to make the three-hour drive back to see their families before they have to turn around and drive back to Kentucky.

Newland says he hopes Flowers Foods starts the bakery back up soon so he can return to Bartholomew County to be with his wife and son. But he will need the company to offer him a pension and a job.

“I hope Flowers does the right thing, and if they’re really wanting to make a go of it, I hope they realize, the people there, they could be passing up on a really good workforce,” he says.

But not all workers would be willing to come back. Larry Duncan is the business agent for Bakery and Confectionery Workers Union Local 132. He says about half of the former employees have moved on to other jobs.

“Some of them are looking forward to going back, but a lot of maintenance men got jobs that are paying more than they got when they were working there. Some of them will not come back.”

Others have gone back to school or have already switched careers entirely. Duncan says he does not think that will hinder the union’s ability to negotiate for pay and benefits, but legally Flowers Foods does not have to honor any part of the contract the union previously had with Hostess Brands.

Calls to Flowers Foods were not returned.

Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/caseyhendrickson Casey Hendrickson

    This is rich. The union workers were the reason Hostess shut down, and now they want their jobs back?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Young-Love/825848997 Young Love

    This is true…O_o

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000250718700 Roy Dunn

    Casey are you a hostessbrand manager or a scab

  • steve shifrin

    The only reason this Co. shut down was because of thieves who cared more about their pockets than workers. their plan all along was to break the unions little by little.

  • steve shifrin

    To the two people who responded to my comment about Hostess Brands, I welcome more of your input and would like to know who you are if possible. I am a former worker of the company and maybe we know one another.

  • http://www.dividendinvestor.com/ Richard Gere

    Flowers is raising its dividend by 5.5% to 11.25 cents per share per quarter.

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