Why We Ask: Our mission and operations are funded 100% by conservatives like you. Please help us continue to extend Liberty to the next generation and support the 2021 Year-End Campaign today.

Mark W. Hendrickson / November 26, 2012

Blasted Twinkie Killers!

Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared at Forbes.com.

Drat! I’m bummed – saddened by the news that the Hostess company, home of the Twinkie and other venerable sugary snacks, is shutting down.

I’ll bet I haven’t eaten more than three or four Twinkies in the last 30 years, so the demise of Hostess doesn’t adversely impact my lifestyle. It’s just that, for baby boomers like me, the Twinkie has historic significance in popular culture. Being a kid in the ‘50s meant watching “The Mickey Mouse Club” and “The Lone Ranger” and snacking on Twinkies and Tootsie Rolls. Twinkies were as American as baseball. Now the company that makes them is facing liquidation. Why?

Because the bakery union wouldn’t agree to the concessions needed to keep their employer afloat. Look, I don’t wish lower wages on anybody, and having personally worked with great people in two unions (UAW and NEA), I have a natural sympathy for working men and women, but I can’t respect a union that would kill off the Twinkie and their own jobs due to a false sense of pride.

Hostess lost $341 million last year. The money for the compensation that the bakery union wanted simply wasn’t there. Even the Teamsters union, whom nobody would ever accuse of wimping out during contract talks, looked at Hostess’ books and acknowledged that the only way to keep the operation afloat would have been for workers to accept lower compensation.

The bakery union, however, would have none of it. They couldn’t have been so stupid as to misunderstand the simple arithmetic of Hostess’ financial predicament, so one can only conclude that they went berserk with ideological madness: “better to destroy the company than to make concessions to management” seems to have been their cold-hearted calculus. The bakery union lost sight of an important truth understood by Samuel Gompers, the founder of the American Federal of Labor, over a century ago: what workers need is a company that operates at a profit.

The pending liquidation of Hostess raises some interesting questions: If people lose their jobs because they committed economic hara-kiri, should they still be entitled to receive taxpayer-funded unemployment? Should the Teamsters union members, whose jobs are also being lost because of the bakery union’s decision, be allowed to file civil suit against the bakery union for compensatory damages for the losses they will suffer from the latter’s reckless actions? Can the rank and file of the bakery union sue their union leaders for professional malpractice? (The malpractice is worse in the union’s case, because most doctors convicted of malpractice don’t intentionally try to harm patients, whereas the Hostess bakery union could see that their action would have a lethal effect, and they went ahead with it anyway.)

It is possible that Hostess has been living on borrowed time. Tastes have been gradually shifting to healthier foods and Hostess’ complex financial structure (372 collective-bargaining agreements, 80 health and benefit plans, and 40 pension plans, according to The Wall Street Journal) might have guaranteed its eventual demise anyhow. Still, for the union to kill off the source of their own members’ income is ghastly. Can there be any silver linings in such a monstrous act? Perhaps.

Maybe union members will start demanding leadership that helps companies survive instead of killing them off. Maybe more union workers will come to understand which is the better choice for them: working zero hours per week at x-dollars per hour or 40 hours per week at x-y dollars per hour. Maybe the Twinkie brand will be sold to another firm so that this iconic snack doesn’t go the way of the dodo. Maybe Americans will see that a corporate bankruptcy – even a corporate liquidation – doesn’t mean that the company’s product has to disappear, that its assets can still be put to productive use, and that at least some of its employees can continue to do the same kind of work under a different business plan based on an economically rational and sustainable cost structure.

Maybe, just maybe, it will dawn on Americans that the same stubborn and ultimately destructive denial of reality that brought down Hostess and possibly killed the innocent Twinkie is the same willful madness that we see in Washington, where ALF-CIO boss Richard Trumka flatly opposes government spending cuts and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refuses even to consider Social Security reform. Like the bakery union at Hostess, these powerful national figures seem ideologically incapable of recognizing the simple fact of life that they want more than the country can afford. Call it folly or madness or whatever, but if we don’t wake up and change our ways, there will be far more economic destruction than just the loss of the venerable Hostess brand.

Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson is an adjunct faculty member, economist, and fellow for economic and social policy with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2021 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.