18,000 Hostess jobs remain in the balance

By Audrey Williams

November 15, 2012 Updated Nov 16, 2012 at 11:16 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- The future of nearly 18,000 jobs, about 150 in Peoria, still hang in the balance. Wednesday, Hostess CEO Greg Rayburn told striking employees that if they did not return to work by 5 p.m. Thursday, he would be forced to liquidate the company.

As of Thursday night, workers remain on strike at Peoria's Hostess plant. They are unsure if they will ever again make Wonder Bread, Twinkies, or Ho-Hos, just a few of the brands made famous under the Hostess umbrella.

BCTGM Union employees say since 2004, they have made numerous concessions and taken pay cuts while the company went in and out of bankruptcy court.

Last Friday, workers at 23 plants took to the streets on strike after an overwhelming majority voted down what they call 'an unacceptable contract' that would again cut their pay and benefits.

"We just want to keep what we got, we're not asking for more, just what we have," said union worker Brenda McIntyre.

Greg Rayburn said in a company release Wednesday that he would begin the liquidation process Friday if sufficient employees do not return to work by Thursday at 5 to restore normal operation.

The release said the company will file a motion Friday in bankruptcy court requesting to sell all company assets. If the motion is granted Hostess could begin to end operations as early as Tuesday.

BCTGM International Union President Frank Hurt said in a statement, "The truth is that Hostess workers and their union have absolutely no responsibility for the failure of this company. That responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of the company's decision makers."

As they wait for answers, workers are thinking ahead to other options.

"We're hoping maybe another company can come in and run this, take it over. Our labels are worth something, we're hoping our labels will run," said McIntyre.

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