GREENFIELD — Hostess Brands and a key union agreed Monday, November 19th to try to mediate their dispute — an unexpected development that could spare the company from permanently shutting down.
The Bakery Workers union, which represents 5,000 of the 18,500 employees at the maker of Twinkies and Wonder Bread, went on strike on Nov. 9th. The company had imposed paycuts and other concessions opposed by the union’s membership.
On Friday, management announced a shutdown of Hostess and appeared before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain on Monday afternoon seeking approval to liquidate.
But Drain said he wanted the parties to try one last time to reach agreement. Drain will serve as the mediator at a session scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. Only one day of talks is set for now.
Meanwhile, a Hostess store in Greenfield is closing its doors. A Hostess spokesman told FOX6 News the store will stay open only as long as it takes to sell what remains of the store’s inventory. The store could close as early as Tuesday, November 20th.
Customers at the Hostess and Wonder Bread Outlet in Greenfield on Monday were disappointed to find the shelves mostly empty.
“There’s no more cherry fruit pies. My favorite food in the whole wide world is gone,” Matthew Frayer said.
Nine outlet stores in Wisconsin will close their doors as soon as their current inventory sells out. At Greenfield’s store, what remained on the shelves Monday was mostly bread and non-Hostess snacks.
“It’s what I grew up with. What am I gonna put in my kids’ lunch now? They love those things and it just brightens their day. Now, it’s gone,” Maggie Frayer said.
The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development says 184 workers could be affected statewide, according to warn notices filed in May. The notice for Greenfield predicted 33 could be affected.
“It’s a shame really. They’ve been here way before I was. It’s kinda sad seeing something so famous just close shop,” Josh Westfall said.
A Hostess spokesman says two employees work in the Greenfield store, but others will be affected — like drivers who make deliveries.
Mediation between Hostess and its unions is set to begin Tuesday, November 20th.