Boonville Hostess Plant Deals With National Turmoil

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BOONVILLE - The Hostess Brands bakery in Boonville saw an increase in workload Tuesday as a national strike forced the bankrupt maker of Twinkies and Wonderbread to close three bakeries.

Nearly 6,000 Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers Union (BCTGM) workers are picketing at two thirds of Hostess bakeries across the country, but the picket lines have not reached Boonville yet.

The strike forced the company to fire 627 workers as it closes three bakeries, including one in Saint Louis. A worker at the Boonville plant said the eighty workers there are dealing with an unexpectedly large workload to make up for the bakeries that are on strike or are now closed.

Hostess Brands CEO Gregory Rayburn has said the company will be forced to liquidate if the strike continues.

The strike comes after Hostess began enforcing concessions that 92 percent of BCTGM workers rejected in September. The concessions included an eight percent pay cut, an increase in health care costs to workers and the elimination of the eight hour work day. Hostess asserted these concessions are necessary to keep the company afloat.

The vast majority of BCTGM workers at the Boonville plant also rejected the concessions, with 42 workers voting against the proposed labor contract and only seven voting in favor of accepting it. A worker at the plant told KOMU 8 News workers are upset but do not plan to strike.

The worker, who asked to remain anonymous, said the local BCTGM union representative wants to keep the Boonville plant operating as long as possible, for fear Hostess will close the plant if workers strike. He said the union hopes when Hostess hits its breaking point, workers will get severance pay or be offered employment by another baking company that buys the plant.

But Rayburn said in a press release yesterday, "The fact is, the bakery industry already has far too much capacity, and there is a strong risk that many of our facilities may never operate as bakeries again once they are closed."

Hostess Brands added security to the Boonville bakery Saturday. A spokesperson for the company said the two security guards are a precaution to make sure workers feel safe continuing to work in the case a picket line forms or workers decide to strike.