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Is there Ho Ho hope for local store?

Hostess, union agree to mediate; local store hangs in the balance

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 1:50 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukval)
The shelves are getting pretty bare at the Hostess Wonder Thriftstore at 301 W. U.S. Route 30 in Rock Falls. It, like all Hostess stores, are set to close once their stock sells out – unless, perhaps, the company and the bakers union, ordered into mediation by a federal bankruptcy judge, can find common ground.

ROCK FALLS – Hostess is embroiled in a union dispute that leaves uncertain not only the future of Twinkies, but also of the local Hostess Wonder Thriftstore and its 16 employees.

Most of the shelves are pretty bare at 301 W. U.S. Route 30, and the store is likely to close this week, spokesman Thom Weidlich said Monday. In fact, all Hostess stores are set to close once their stock sells out.

The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union initiated a nationwide strike that crippled Hostess’ ability to produce and deliver products – including Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Ho Hos and Wonder Bread – and so it was shutting down, the company said Friday.

“Hostess closing down, come on!” Amanda Gilroy, 35, of Rock Falls, said Monday as she talked with other customers at the store she’s been coming to for 6 years.

Jennifer Marth, 41, a Polo resident, is disappointed because the Rock Falls store delivers snacks to the Shell station she manages there. Marth, a former Rock Falls resident, still stops by the store when she’s in town, she said.

But Ho Hold everything: The company and the union will enter into mediation talks today to try to resolve their differences, Hostess announced late Monday.

Hostess, weighed down by debt, management turmoil, rising labor costs and the changing tastes of America, filed for bankruptcy in January, its second Chapter 11 filing in less than a decade.

A week ago today, it closed three plants because of the work stoppage. Wednesday, it said it would be forced to liquidate if enough employees did not return to work to restore normal operations by Thursday evening. They didn’t, the company determined Thursday night, hence Friday’s announcement.

But the bankruptcy judge hearing the case said Monday that the parties hadn’t gone through the critical step of mediation. They are expected to begin that process today.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Get 'em while you can

The Hostess Wonder Thriftstore, 301 W. U.S. Route 30, is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, until the shelves are emptied – or until Hostess and the bakers union resolve their dispute.

 

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