Hostess produces a number of products you’re likely familiar with including Wonder Bread and Ding Dongs; however, they are perhaps best known for their addictive golden sponge cake with the white creamy filling – the Twinkie.
Now the connection between a Twinkie and an NHL player is admittedly not obvious and most players are likely banned from consuming the classic pastry unless they sneak one in the offseason or they're Dustin Byfuglien and they don't give a $%@#.
The Hostess management team has had a trying few years, as they have been unable to develop a positive working relationship with their unionized employees, represented by Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM). The union represents a significant portion of the company’s 18,500 employees.
On November 9th the union voted to go on strike, unhappy with management’s frequent calls for lower wages and smaller pensions, which were cited as major issues in Hostess’ business model. This sent the 33 bakeries and 553 distribution centers into disarray and crippled the company’s ability to produce and deliver products.
What really struck me about the story and what scares me as a hockey fan is how the BCTGM union responded to the initial bankruptcy claim by management – they balked at it. Union leaders felt that the corporate leaders were simply using the threat of closure to force workers to cross the picket line or risk losing their jobs.
The union never expected the company to actually follow through on their threat and shut down operations for good – but they did.
When looking at the financials is where the story gets really eerie. The 2008 revenue for Hostess Brands was $2,800,000,000 - close to $3-billion dollars. The 2011-12 hockey related revenue for the NHL was just over $3 billion dollars. How many times have we heard on the radio over the past 60 days that the NHL and NHLPA should be able to come to some sort of agreement based in large part on the size of the financial pie in play?