Let's have some awful time together!
Now that it’s the holidays, I’m more focused on the end of the fiscal year than I am on who got mauled during Black Friday. Part of that is my not-in-denial insistence that if I avoid reading the news about how horrible people are, then these people just don’t exist. The other part is I’m– surprise, surprise– not the biggest holiday person in the world, if you can imagine.
People are mourning a lot of weird shit this holiday season, like how Hostess is filing for bankruptcy for the second time in the past ten years.
I can’t even process the emotional investment people have in a product that basically no one should be eating, that could be made with far fewer chemicals and not later deep-fried in faux-blue collar restaurants. Nor can I imagine anyone’s sympathies towards a company that can’t properly negotiate with its unions:
The critical issue in the bankruptcy is legacy pensions. Hostess has roughly $2 billion in unfunded pension liabilities to its various unions’ workers — the Teamsters but also the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (which has largely chosen not to contest what Hostess wants to do — that is, to get out of much of that obligation). [David Kaplan, "Hostess is bankrupt...again," Fortune]
Kaplan goes on to explain that once this is taken out of courts– if it is–a strike would likely be the next step. Come on, Hostess. This is not your first rodeo.
It’s one thing to treat employees badly– but when they’re unionized, there tends to be some recourse for the mistreated. This isn’t to say all unions are perfect or reasonable in each of their demands, but I tend to go with the teamsters on most things. So, if Hostess can’t plan its corporate success while also retaining ethical standards in the treatment of its employees– well, time to free up those patents to other brands!
Now I’m just pretending I don’t understand how economics works. I knew this all along, back when I was part of a graduate student union at UMass-Amherst. I knew how corporations worked– and failed– back in my high school economics class where my teacher let us watch Roger and Me and told us to think like economists. All I learned is that people accept too passively how corporations are treated more kindly than people– especially during the holidays.
But if you’re really upset, make some Ding Dongs yourself.
Like, if it’s a real issue.
(This Self-Righteous post is brought to you by a pro-union lady. Forgive?)