Twinkies bakers say they’d rather lose jobs than take pay cuts

http://news.yahoo.com/twinkies-bakers-theyd-rather-lose-jobs-pay-cuts-075558559–finance.html

By Carey Gillam and Martinne Geller | Reuters – 11 hrs ago

KANSAS CITY, Mo./NEW YORK (Reuters) – Enough is enough, say bakery workers at Hostess Brands Inc.

After several years of costly concessions, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers Union (BCTGM) authorized a walk-out earlier this month after Hostess received bankruptcy court approval to implement a wage cut that was not included in its contract.

With operations stalled, the company that makes Twinkies and other famous U.S. brands said last week that liquidating its business was the best way to preserve its dwindling cash. It won court approval on Wednesday to start winding down in a process expected to claim 15,000 jobs immediately and over 3,000 more after about four months.

Interviews with more than a dozen workers showed there was little sign of regret from employees who voted for the strike. They said they would rather lose their jobs than put up with lower wages and poorer benefits.

“They’re just taking from us,” said Kenneth Johnson, 46, of Missouri. He said he earned roughly $35,000 with overtime last year, down from about $45,000 five years ago.

“I really can’t afford to not be working, but this is not worth it. I’d rather go work somewhere else or draw unemployment,” said Johnson, a worker at Hostess for 23 years.

With 18,500 workers, Hostess has 12 different unions including the BCTGM, which has about 5,600 members on the bread and snack item production lines, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents about 7,500 route sales representatives, drivers and other employees.

Unlike some non-unionized rivals, the maker of Wonder Bread and Drake’s cakes had to navigate more than 300 labor contracts, with terms that often strained efficiency and competitiveness, Hostess officials have said. In some extreme cases, contract provisions required different products to be delivered on different trucks even when headed to the same place.

Aside from those so-called onerous labor contracts, Hostess has grappled for some time with rising ingredient costs and a growing health consciousness that has made its sugary cakes less popular. It filed for bankruptcy in January, only three years after emerging from a prior bankruptcy.

Lance Ignon, speaking on behalf of Hostess, said the company recognized how difficult the past few years had been for workers and wished it did not have to ask them for more givebacks.

“But the reality was that the company could not survive without those concessions,” Ignon said.

FRUSTRATIONS, COMPLAINTS

Workers had a laundry list of frustrations, from rising healthcare costs to decreased wages and delayed pension benefits. They even cited a $10-per-week per worker charge they said Hostess claimed was needed to boost company capital.

“They have taken and taken and taken from us,” said Debi White, who has worked at Hostess for 26 years, most recently as a bun handler at its bread and roll plant in Lenexa, Kansas.

“They have been walking around stomping their foot saying either you give in … or else we’re going to close you now. Well, go ahead, we’re tired of their threats,” she said. “That’s how we feel.”

Hostess workers are now scrambling to figure out when their health insurance runs out — or if it already has — and where and how to apply for job retraining and unemployment benefits.

Following a summer and autumn spent in labor negotiations trying to find a common path to reorganization, Hostess’ management gained concessions from some unions, including the Teamsters.

The fear of thousands of job losses, for its own members and other unions, led the Teamsters to plead with the BCTGM to hold a secret ballot to determine if bakery workers really wanted to continue with the strike, even with the threat of closure.

Teamsters officials complained that bakery union leaders did “not substantively look for a solution or engage in the process,” and complained that the BCTGM called for its strike on November 9 without first notifying the Teamsters.

They said that, unlike the bakery union, the Teamsters voted to “protect all jobs at Hostess.” Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall said Wednesday’s court approval for liquidation marked “a sad day for thousands of families affected by the closing of this company.”

Bakery union President Frank Hurt has said that any labor agreements would only be temporary as Hostess was doomed anyway. The union said new owners were needed to get Hostess back on track and the only way they would return to work was if Hostess rescinded its wage and benefit cuts.

“Our membership … just had no confidence in this management group being able to run a business,” said Conrad Boos, a BCTGM local business representative in Missouri.

Hurt was not immediately available to comment on Wednesday but the union said in a court filing its sole objective was to leave Hostess with “a real, rather than an illusory or theoretical, likelihood of establishing a stable business with secure jobs.”

On Wednesday, Hostess’ lawyer Heather Lennox said the company had received a “flood of inquiries” from potential buyers for several brands that could be sold at auction, and expects initial bidders within a few weeks.

(Additional reporting by Peter Rudegeair in NEW YORK; Editing by Paul Tait)

Have you ever wondered……

Why the term ‘African-American’ is somehow supposed to denote one’s skin color? A hyphenated American is a first generation American, whose parent or parents, originated in another country. Take for example ‘Italian-American’, this person’s parent/s came from Italy. Note that it names a specific country, not a continent, and it also does not imply a skin color. Common usage of hyphenated Americans usually is country specific when speaking about Europeans. Why then, has the term ‘African-American’ come to mean “black”? There are many Africans who are white. If one of them should come to the United States and have a child, then that child would be appropriately called an ‘African-American’. Does this now mean those white ‘African-Americans’ can benefit from affirmative action policies?

 

What’s your take on this?

Union protests at Los Angeles airport disrupt holiday travelers

Ok, this is silly. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are protesting because workers voted to leave the union. What does the SEIU hope to accomplish? Do they think the workers will rethink their departure?

 

LOS ANGELES –  A labor dispute at America’s third busiest airport turned what was already a bad travel day into a nightmare for some travelers.

One of the nation’s biggest unions snarled traffic as it tried to block two entrances into the Los Angeles International airport Wednesday, in a protest police feared would turn the streets outside into a parking lot at a time when tens of thousands of cars are pouring into the airport.

The Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, claims a company that employs 450 sky caps, cabin cleaners and security workers at LAX illegally broke a contract and is in violation of the city’s living wage ordinance.

That company, Aviation Safeguards, claims that’s inaccurate, saying 52 percent of its workers voted to decertify the SEIU. It also says employee pay has increased by more than $2 million since workers kicked the union out to compensate for changes in their health care policies.

In protest, and with five additional LAX contracts expiring at the end of November, SEIU chose the busiest travel day of the year to bring attention to its cause. “We understand the inconvenience, but workers here are making the decisions of life,” spokesman Ernesto Guerrero said.

“Airport workers, they serve the public,” he told Fox News on Wednesday morning outside LAX Terminal 4. “They are very proud about their job. Unfortunately, they are being forced to do these extreme measures because otherwise no one is listening to them. The airport is not listening to them. The mayor of the city is not listening to them. We are being forced to take these extreme actions.”

The protest began in the afternoon, and police arranged traffic diversions to keep travelers moving, even if roads were blocked. But some people ended up in backups and were delayed as they tried to make their flights, a police commander told the Associated Press.

Airlines reported no major issues with passengers missing flights because of the protest, a LAX spokeswoman said. Thirteen people were arrested in the protest, including a dozen who sat down in the street and disobeyed a dispersal order, the Associated Press reports.

The union planned to bus in roughly a 1,000 union members to march down Century Boulevard, the main entrance into LAX, and Sepulveda Boulevard, the entrance used by motorists coming north from the beach cities and Orange County. An estimated 1.7 million are expected to use LAX over the Thanksgiving holiday.

While the union’s action did bring attention to its cause, as dozens of local radio and TV vans converged on the airport to cover the event, it also could backfire, according to the company the union accuses of breaking a contract.

“There is no dispute from our perspective. Our employees voted by a large majority to decertify from the SEIU,” Aviation Safeguard Vice President Joe Conlon said. “It is voluntary process to join a union. And it is voluntary process to not be part of a union. Our employees in a majority voted they did not want to be part of the SEIU anymore. So we don’t have a dispute. Our employees are happy with the wages and benefits they receive.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/11/21/union-protest-at-los-angeles-airport-threatening-to-disrupt-holiday-travel/?test=latestnews#ixzz2Cv7Kbbas

What are RINOs, DINOs, and I don’t knows?

14 May, 2010 – 03:28 — Patrick

What are RINOs, DINOs, and I don’t knows?

RINOs are Republicans In Name Only.
DINOs are Democrats In Name Only.
I Don’t Knows are people who don’t really have any clue about politics at all.

Each political party has members within their ranks who don’t adhere to core party fundamentals. These members are probably better suited to run as Independents but hold on to their party designation for multiple reasons. This, in the long run, confuses the electorate.

RINOs populate the current Republican Party in massive numbers. From Arnold Schwarzenegger to John McCain, these RINOs are really liberals at worst and independents at best.

The RINO Schwarzenegger played at conservatism for several years but then capitulated when a lot of his state initiatives were defeated a few years ago. The California teacher’s unions were a major factor in those defeats. Since that time, Schwarzenegger has gone out of his way to distance himself from the Republican Party and cozy up with the liberals. His grab-ankles pandering really doesn’t surprise many of us since he is from a socialist country and married to a Kennedy too. It was always in his nature to support liberal socialists.

John McCain is another big RINO. He claims to be a ‘maverick’ and a Republican but is really nothing more than your typical lying politician. He co-authored the McCain-Feingold Act which is a direct infringement upon the 1st Amendment. He’s also in favor of granting amnesty for illegal aliens. For the life of me, I cannot understand how McCain can continue to call himself a Republican. Hopefully in November, the people of the great state of Arizona will throw him out of office for good.

DINOs. Prior to the late 1980’s, it was nearly impossible for a candidate to get elected in the Deep South if they carried an ‘R’ beside their name. This had a lot to do with the Deep South going through Reconstruction after the Civil War (War of Northern Aggression). Republicans were viewed as outsiders and carpetbaggers. So what happened in many cases, a conservative would run as a democrat as that was their only real chance of getting elected. These DINOs were also known as Blue Dog democrats. One of the most notable of these Blue Dogs is Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama. He finally became a Republican during Clinton’s term as President.

Lastly, we have ‘I don’t knows’. This group of people really don’t get into politics in any depth. Most of them are swayed by sound bites and public opinions. A large part of this group identifies with the political party of their close family members, having never given much thought as to why they believe in that particular party affiliation. We can see the same sort of odd allegiance in religious views too. Some may even claim they’re ‘independent’ when confronted because they cannot articulate their beliefs. Claiming independence is their way of not appearing ignorant to others. True Independents can discuss political ideals and hold their own in those types of debates.

Is being ‘poor’ a learned behavior?

This was first posted on my personal website several years ago…

I know I’ll probably cause a little controversy with this subject matter, so here goes. At one time, I believed that being poor was unfair, or that some folks just didn’t catch the right breaks in life, or maybe the odds were stacked against them so as to make overcoming them insurmountable. I don’t think that anymore. I’ve had the fortune, or misfortune… depending upon your view of life, to have met a diverse cross section of people from all walks of life. Those that were successful shared several positive traits, while those who occupied the bottom rungs of the socio-economic ladder, usually had a host of negative traits. Negative traits included limited education, limited marketable skills, little or no initiative, and poor lifestyle choices.

It is by talking to people over the years that I’ve come to the conclusion that being poor is a learned behavior. Some of the bad behaviors included drug/alcohol addition, gambling addictions, poor financial planning, poor saving habits, and the need for instant gratification… sacrificing financial futures for fulfilling immediate wants. It is with those negative habits that many people find it difficult to overcome. That does not mean people of means don’t suffer from those bad habits too… it just means that they have enough financial or educational resources at their disposal to offset many of the hardships associated with those habits. Comments?

Illegal aliens

This post was published on my old website a few years ago.

 

28 April, 2010 – 03:47 — Patrick

Illegal means just that… ILLEGAL!

I have no problem with anyone coming to this country so long as they do it legally. I don’t care how bad their home country is, if they have enough to eat, or just want to be in the United States to make themselves a ‘better life’. It just doesn’t matter.

There are millions of people in the world who want the opportunity to live here but must stand in line and wait their turn. So, why is it that the illegals already here, aren’t made to leave and get in the back of the line? Whys isn’t the federal government, especially Executive branch, upholding the law against illegal immigration? The simple answer to this question is that both political parties look at illegals as a potential voting block for their respective party. However insane that may sound, I’ll bet my last dollar that its most likely the reason.

The United States has always welcomed new people and those that came here tried to integrate into the American society. No so anymore. We’ve become a Balkanized nation. We’ve lost our common cultural identity and have come to define ourselves as hyphenated Americans. We need to re-establish our cultural identity again, purging those that would have us emphasize our differences instead of our strengths.

But I digress… Why should we expect illegal aliens to respect our laws, pay fines for being here illegally in the first place, and then grant them a ‘pathway to citizenship’ when they’ve shown no interest in abiding by our laws to begin with? I’m of the mindset that anyone here illegally should be afforded no constitutional protections. That should be afforded only to legal immigrants or visa holders. Those who employ illegal workers should be subjected to the RICO statutes and have their assets seized. That includes the little old lady who hires an illegal to mow her lawn, all the way up to the largest corporation doing business in the United States. Make no exceptions! Once the illegal aliens find that they are no longer employable, they’ll self-deport. Problem solved.

We have to look at several issues when addressing the illegal alien population. Those include free schooling, access to welfare benefits, the misuse of emergency rooms, infectious diseases, substandard housing accommodations, and a whole host of other societal ills. It has been estimated that an illegal alien, during the course of his/her stay in the United States, costs the American taxpayer approximately $56,000. That’s over and above what little they may pay in taxes, etc. Now multiply that figure by 9-12 million illegals. That’s a mind-boggling sum of money! And we wonder why the states and this nation is so damned broke!

Call me ‘mean-spirited’ if you like, I don’t care, but we must address this issue of illegal immigration before we cease to be a nation with recognizable borders. If I had my way, there would be a DMZ along both our borders and the rights guaranteed by our Constitution would be suspended within it.

Hostess to close, lay off 18,500 after ‘crippling’ union fight

A small union’s stubbornness in contract talks with Hostess is being blamed for the shutdown of one of America’s snack food icons, the loss of 18,500 jobs just before the holiday season and much-needed tax revenue from hundreds of plants and shops across the country.

The privately-held company had reached a deal with the Teamsters, but a smaller union representing bakery workers refused to agree to concessions, prompting the mass layoffs and closing down of hundreds of plants, bakeries and delivery routes. That prompted harsh words from both the company and from Teamsters officials.

“We deeply regret the necessity of today’s decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike,” Chief Executive Gregory Rayburn said in a statement. “Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders.”

The company said it will continue to ship out its well-known products until inventory runs out.

The national strike by members of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) that began last week decimated the 82-year-old company’s ability to produce and deliver products at roughly 12 of its 33 plants. The company announced earlier in the week that the ax would fall on Friday if the strikers didn’t get back to work, but the union didn’t blink. BCTGM President Frank Hurt said Thursday that the crisis was the “result of nearly a decade of financial and operational mismanagement” and charged management was scapegoating workers to allow the Wall Street investors who own Hostess to sell.

Calls seeking comment from Hurt were not returned early Friday.

Marty Zimmerman, secretary-treasurer for BCTGM Local 85, told Fox40 from a Sacramento picket line early Friday that workers had been at “wits end” with Hostess brass.

“Well, the mindset is we’re standing strong, absolutely,” Zimmerman told the station. “I mean, they’ve taken our pensions away, we’ve had seven CEOs in the last 10 years; this company has been so mismanaged. Really, we’re at our wits end and enough is enough”

The Irving, Texas-based company had already reached an agreement on pay and benefit cuts with its largest union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. On Thursday, Teamsters officials blasted the smaller union for not seeking a “solution” in the process or to engage in negotiations.

“The BCTGM chose a different path, as is their prerogative, to not substantively look for a solution or engage in the process,” the statement read. “BCTGM members were told there were better solutions than the final offer, although Judge Drain stated in his decision in bankruptcy court that no such solutions exist. Without complete information, BCTGM members voted by voice votes in union halls. The BCTGM reported that over 90 percent rejected the final offer and three of its units ratified the final offer.”

In a letter to employees posted on the company’s website, Rayburn said all employees would eventually lose their jobs, some sooner than others.

“Many people have worked incredibly long and hard to keep this from happening, but now Hostess Brands has no other alternative than to begin the process of winding down and preparing for the sale of our iconic brands,” Rayburn’s letter read. “As you know, for many months the Company has been working with our unions, lenders and other stakeholders to reach a consensual resolution to legacy costs and labor contracts. Despite everyone’s considerable efforts to move Hostess out of its restructuring, when we began implementing the Company’s last, best and final offer, the Bakers Union chose to stage a crippling strike.”

Because the company is privately held, its financials were not available. But has struggled for several years, with some blaming America’s increasing appetite for healthier fare. The company sought concessions from employees, but instead got a costly strike that further crippled it, according to officials, who told a federal bankruptcy court it would lose up to $9.5 million from Nov. 9 to Nov. 19 in lost sales and increased costs. The company has cancelled all orders in process and said any baked goods currently in transit would be returned to shippers.

“These losses and other factors, including increased vendor payment terms contraction, have resulted in a significant weakening of the debtors’ cash position and, if continued, would soon result in the debtors completely running out of cash,” the filing read.

Hostess will now sell its popular brands like Ding Dongs, Ho Ho’s and Sno Balls, along with the closure of 565 distribution centers, 570 bakery outlet stores and roughly 5,550 delivery routes.

Lenders have agreed to allow Hostess to continue to access $75 million in financing put in place at the start of the bankruptcy cases to fund the sale and wind-down process, subject to U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval.

BCTGM workers began striking at some Hostess production facilities without notifying Teamsters officials on Nov. 9, the Teamsters said.

“This unannounced action put Teamster members in the difficult position of facing picket lines without knowing their right to honor such a line without being disciplined,” the statement continued.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/11/16/hostess-brands-to-liquidate-lay-off-18500-after-crippling-union-fight/#ixzz2CQZyup00

Companies that are downsizing or closing.

Thanks to ObamaCare, companies are now faced with the reality of laying off workers and cutting back workers’ hours in the attempt to avoid having to provide their employees with health insurance.  Basic economics tells us companies must either raise prices and/or reduce costs in order to stay competitive and grow. Nothing is ever really ‘free’. Everything has an associated cost. Citizens who voted for Obama in the 2012 election cycle have done themselves more economic damage than they even realize. The ‘working poor’ will now be faced with far fewer job opportunities and limited hours an employer will allow them to work. This means their lifestyle will no longer be based on 40 hours a week, and they can expect to work two or more jobs just to make ends meet.

Here are some companies who have announced layoffs, reduced work hours for employees, or just simply closing their doors due to ObamaCare. Companies sole purpose is to make a profit.

 

LINK

Welch Allyn

Welch Allyn, a company that manufactures medical diagnostic equipment in central New York, announced in September that they would be laying off 275 employees, or roughly 10% of their workforce over the next three years.  One of the major reasons discussed for the layoffs was a proactive response to the Medical Device Tax mandated by the new healthcare law.

Dana Holding Corp.

As recently as a week ago, a global auto parts manufacturing company in Ohio known as Dana Holding Corp., warned their employees of potential layoffs, citing “$24 million over the next six years in additional U.S. health care expenses”.  After laying off several white collar staffers, company insiders have hinted at more to come.  The company will have to cover the additional $24 million cost somehow, which will likely equate to numerous cuts in their current workforce of 25,500 worldwide.

Stryker

One of the biggest medical device manufacturers in the world, Stryker will close their facility in Orchard Park, New York, eliminating 96 jobs in December.  Worse, they plan on countering the medical device tax in Obamacare by slashing 5% of their global workforce – an estimated 1,170 positions.

Boston Scientific

In October of 2009, Boston Scientific CEO Ray Elliott, warned that proposed taxes in the health care reform bill could “lead to significant job losses” for his company.  Nearly two years later, Elliott announced that the company would be cutting anywhere between 1,200 and 1,400 jobs, while simultaneously shifting investments and workers overseas – to China.

Medtronic

In March of 2010, medical device maker Medtronic warned that Obamacare taxes could result in a reduction of precisely 1,000 jobs.  That plan became reality when the company cut 500 positions over the summer, with another 500 set for the end of 2013.

Others

A short listof other companies facing future layoffs at the hands of Obamacare:

  • Smith & Nephew – 770 layoffs
  • Abbott Labs – 700 layoffs
  • Covidien – 595 layoffs
  • Kinetic Concepts – 427 layoffs
  • St. Jude Medical – 300 layoffs
  • Hill Rom – 200 layoffs

Beyond the complete elimination of a significant number of American jobs is another looming problem created by the health care law – a shift from full-time to part-time workers.

Sean Hackbarth of Free Enterprise explains:

A JP Morgan economist “points out that 8.3 million people are working in part-time jobs even though they’d prefer full-time work. Unfortunately, because of President Obama’s health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), workers in the hotel, restaurant, and retail industries could be pushed into part-time jobs working less than 30 hours per week.”

“Under the health care law, if a company has more than 50 “full time equivalent” workers, a combination of full and part-time employees, but doesn’t offer “affordable” coverage that meets the government’s minimum value standard, the company will have to pay a penalty. This penalty is determined by the number of full-time employees minus 30 full-time employees. So to reiterate a very important point: part-time workers are not part of the penalty formula. The health care law creates a perverse incentive to hire part-time versus full-time workers.”

Tangible examples of Obamacare causing a reduction in full-time workers:

Darden Restaurants

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Darden Restaurants, a casual dining chain best known for their Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants, is “experimenting with limiting the hours of some of its workers to avoid health care requirements under the Affordable Care Act when they take effect in 2014”.

JANCOA Janitorial Services

The CEO of JANCOA, Mary Miller, testified to Congress that Obamacare was a “dream killer”, adding that one option she had to consider “is reducing the majority of my team members to part-time employment in order to reduce the amount that I will be penalized.”

Kroger

The American retailer in Cincinnati, Ohio recently was reported to be planning a significant slashing of their hourly workers.  Doug Ross writes:

Operative Faith (a mid-level manager with the company) reveals that Kroger will soon join the rankof Darden Restaurants and slash the hours of its non-exempt (hourly) workers to avoid millions in Obamacare penalties.

According to the source, Obamacare could result in tens of thousands of Kroger employees being limited to working 28 hours per week.

Summary

This is by no means, meant to be an exhaustive list.  But it is meant to provide examples of real companies, real jobs, and real names, soon to be added to the growing list of employment casualties provided by the inevitable implementation of Obamacare.

Last night, America voted for four more years of President Obama and his destructive economic and health care policies.  By extension, America last night voted their approval of the aforementioned layoffs and overall work reduction.

Now we must accept the inevitable.  Welcome to mourning in America.

 

 

Judicial Review

This is something every citizen must understand. We’re not taught this in schools. Most of the teachers I had in school believed the Constitution was a ‘living’ document. That is to say, the meaning of the Constitution changes over time. That couldn’t be more wrong. The Constitution is a rigid document. The ONLY way to change its meanings is via the amendment process.

 

http://constitutionality.us/SupremeCourt.html

 

Judicial Review

The Supreme Court of the United States spends much, if not most, of its time on a task which is not delegated to the Supreme Court by the Constitution. That task is: Hearing cases wherein the constitutionality of a law or regulation is challenged. The Supreme Court’s nine Justices attempt to sort out what is, and what is not constitutional. This process is known as Judicial Review. But the states, in drafting the Constitution, did not delegate such a power to the Supreme Court, or to any branch of the government.

Since the constitution does not give this power to the court, you might wonder how it came to be that the court assumed this responsibility. The answer is that the court just started doing it and no one has put a stop to it. This assumption of power took place first in 1794 when the Supreme Court declared an act of congress to be unconstitutional, but went largely unnoticed until the landmark case of Marbury v Madison in 1803. Marbury is significant less for the issue that it settled (between Marbury and Madison) than for the fact that Chief Justice John Marshall used Marbury to provide a rationale for judicial review. Since then, the idea that the Supreme Court should be the arbiter of constitutionality issues has become so ingrained that most people incorrectly believe that the Constitution granted this power.

 

More on this topic can be found on the link above.