Friday, November 16, 2012


One article blames possible Twinkie demise on union, the other also suggests management responsibility

by Larry Geller

Can news articles be either food for thought or junk food? It looks that way.

A strike currently underway at Hostess plants may indeed result in closure of the company, which is currently in bankruptcy proceedings, but the commercial press could at least do their job in reporting the situation without bias. Contrast these two stories. The first is an AP story that appears on today’s breaking news section of the Star-Advertiser web page and could be their pick to print in the paper. A snip:

Hostess has said the company is unprofitable under its current cost structure, in large part because of its union wages and pension costs. [Hostess CEO Greg] Rayburn said that sales volumes had been flat to slightly down leading up the bankruptcy filing. In a statement on the company website, he said all employees will eventually lose their jobs, "some sooner than others."

[Star-Advertiser (AP), Hostess moves to liquidate after crippling strike, 11/16/2012]

The AP story covers the management line, but what of the union position?

A representative for the bakers union did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Somehow, the New York Times (see below) was able to get through to the union leadership. Perhaps they just tried hard enough. That line, “did not immediately return a call” is used too often. Who can count on a call being immediately returned these days? When did the reporter call? You see what I mean.

So from the Times article, a snip of the union response:

“What’s happening with Hostess Brands is a microcosm of what’s wrong with America, as Bain-style Wall Street vultures make themselves rich by making America poor,” A.F.L.-C.I.O. President Richard Trumka said in a statement, referring to the Bain Capital, the private equity firm run by the recent presidential candidate Mitt Romney. “Crony capitalism and consistently poor management drove Hostess into the ground, but its workers are paying the price.”

[New York Times, Hostess Brands Moves to Wind Down Operations, 11/16/2012]

The AP story closed with a rather (IMHO) pathetic attempt at showing how ordinary people will suffer without their Twinkies.

This is a common pattern: blame the problem on a damaging strike, then show how the strikers are hurting ordinary people. The ruse is repeated again and again in the commercial press, casting workers in a bad light while ignoring or under-reporting management’s actions or inactions that contributed to the labor dispute in the first place.


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