POLITICS

New Hostess owners walk back anti-union comments

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins,Labor unions

The newly-revived Hostess snack cake company created a stir late last week when it indicated it wouldn’t be allowing any unions. As the Wall Street Journal reported:

 Chief Executive C. Dean Metropoulos (of Metropoulos & Co, one of the two companies reviving the brand) said the company will pump $60 million in capital investments into the plants between now and September and aims to hire at least 1,500 workers. But they won’t be represented by unions, including the one whose nationwide strike sparked the 86-year-old company’s decision to shut down in November.

“We do not expect to be involved in the union going forward,” Mr. Metropoulos said in an interview Wednesday.

The comment was surprising only for its bluntness. When the company closed down last year, it blamed the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers International Union. Its members had been on strike rather than agree to concessions with the ailing company, saying the offer was no good. The Teamsters, by contrast, had struck a deal.

Well, the company appears to have had a change of heart. Hostess issued another press release yesterday:

Several articles appearing in the press last week suggested that Hostess is opposed to having labor unions in its bakeries and is specifically seeking non-union workers. This is not the case. Hostess respects union rights and will not discriminate against job applicants on the basis of union membership or union activities. Hostess intends to hire the most qualified applicants, regardless of their age, race, gender, or prior or current union affiliation. If a majority of the individuals hired at a Hostess facility are from the former company’s unionized workforce, the Company will comply with any legal obligations it may have concerning bargaining with any union. (Emphasis added.)

The recent statements in the press attributed to various Hostess officials are incomplete and do not reflect the policies of Hostess. None of the Company representatives stated or intended to imply that Hostess will be avoiding union-represented employees or job applicants. It is the policy of Hostess to comply with all applicable laws in its hiring process and not discriminate against job applicants on the basis of any protected characteristic, including union membership.

The Company respects the right under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act to organize and bargain collectively through a union and the right to refrain from those activities. The Company will not interfere with those rights. The hiring process at all of the locations will be administered by third-party and Hostess human resources professionals – and not the persons to whom the statements were attributed – with assistance from various state and local labor and employment agencies.

It may be notable that Metropoulos said “the union” and not unions plural. I am guessing he was thinking only of the bakers union. Still, it was a gaffe.

As the last paragraph points out, his comments could have landed the company in some serious legal trouble with the feds. So it's pretty clear the lawyers wrote this one.

I put in calls to Hostess, the bakers union and Teamsters. Only the Teamsters responded and that was to give a “no comment.”

 

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