Hostess workers in St. Louis laid off after supporting nation-wide strikes

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by Maggie Crane / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on November 12, 2012 at 10:20 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 13 at 10:35 AM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Hostess workers in St. Louis learned they no longer have jobs Monday after supporting a strike at other plants.

“I actually heard about this from your station,” Jerrold Russell, a union shop steward, said.  “I was at my house and before I walked out my wife said you’re on the news.”

Workers tell News 4 that the company has yet to officially break the news to them.

Hostess blames the nationwide strike by its Bakers’ Union for forcing Monday’s layoffs.  The company says the strike prevented it from producing and delivering products.

These are good jobs leaving the city.  The average worker makes $18 an hour.

Hundreds of Hostess employees—several with more than a decade of work in St. Louis—stopped making and delivering the snack foods on Monday, instead honoring picket lines across the country to protest a 30 percent cut in wages and benefits.

“Although when you weigh the sides here we are now, we all have to go find something else,” Russell said.  “You have to consider that old saying ‘you have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.’”

Hostess CEO Gregory Rayburn used the work stoppage to permanently shutter three plants in St. Louis, Cincinnati and Seattle.

“We deeply regret this decision, but we have repeatedly explained that we will close facilities that are no longer able to produce and deliver products because of a work stoppage—and that we will close the entire company if widespread strikes cripple our business,” Rayburn said.

“They’ve been saying they’re going to close on and off, on and off, on and off so we’ve been tired of waiting,” Margaret Lesueur, Hostess employee said.  “I am so upset and trying to be nice.”

Workers now face an uncertain future, many, finding themselves in the unemployment line for the first time.

“Obviously it’s been stressful, but it’s something that we’ll work through,” Russell said.

Hostess is going through bankruptcy, but St. Louis customers will still get Hostess products but from another bakery in another state.

 

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