March 22, 2013

AP Report on Latest Hostess Asset Sale Tags the Wrong Union With Blame for Company’s Demise

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 11:16 pm

I don’t know whether AP Food Industry Writer Candice Choi misidentified the union responsible for the final demise of Hostess late last year deliberately or out of ignorance.

But in the final five paragraphs of her report on the company’s sale of several of its best-known brands to two investment groups, Choi definitely blew it (bolds are mine throughout this post):

TWINKIES SALE APPROVED BY JUDGE

A bankruptcy judge on Tuesday approved the sale of Twinkies to a pair of investment firms, one of which has said it hopes to have the cakes back on shelves by summer.

… The bakers union for Hostess, which had previously objected to the sales, said in a statement that it shared the enthusiasm exhibited by the new owners to bring Hostess brands back to shelves quickly.

The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union said it believed “our highly-motivated and skilled workforce will serve as indispensable partners in the seamless re-opening of factories.”

The Teamsters, which was the company’s largest union, appeared less optimistic.

“The liquidation and sale process has only insured that the brands may live on – none of the buyers have made any comments to employ former Hostess workers let alone honor the terms of conditions of their employment with Hostess – in fact they specifically stipulated that none of the obligations carry forward as part of their bids,” the Teamsters said.

Hostess closed its factories in late November following a strike by the union. The company had been struggling financially for years.

A reader unaware of the actual history would have to conclude based on what Choi wrote that the “union” which finally led Hostess to decide to liquidate was the Teamsters. As Bloomberg News and many other outlets reported at the time, the blame belongs completely with the bakers’ union:

Hostess Brands Inc., the bankrupt maker of Wonder bread and Twinkies, said it will fire more than 18,000 workers and liquidate after a nationwide strike by bakery workers crippled operations.

Officials of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, representing about 6,700 Hostess employees, were “incredibly disappointed” and “angry” about the shutdown, (Hostess Chief Executive Officer Gregory F.) Rayburn said. The Teamsters union yesterday urged the bakers’ union to let members decide by secret ballot whether to continue the walkout.

“The company has clearly been mismanaged for some time,” the Teamsters said today in a statement. “Unfortunately, the company’s operating and financial problems were so severe that it required steep concessions from a variety of stakeholders but not all stakeholders were willing to be constructive.”

Drivers represented by the Teamsters earlier ratified a new contract with 8 percent in wage concessions and 17 percent in benefit reductions. Teamsters members “understood what was at stake and voted to protect all jobs at Hostess,” the union said in today’s statement.

As noted above, I don’t know the reason for Choi’s obvious error. But how can the Essential Global Network’s Food Industry Writer mess up on such an easy thing and not have it get caught by some kind of editorial oversight?

I believe what we’re learning is that at the AP, there really isn’t any meaningful editorial oversight.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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