Sweetheart owners again threaten to liquidate

2012-11-14T17:25:00Z 2013-05-10T18:33:13Z Sweetheart owners again threaten to liquidateBy JAN FALSTAD jfalstad@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Texas-based Hostess Brand Inc. on Wednesday repeated its threat to liquidate all the Sweetheart bakeries if striking bakers, including in Billings, don't return to work by 5 p.m. EST on Thursday.

"We simply do not have the financial resources to survive an ongoing national strike," said chairman and chief executive Gregory Rayburn.

Shutting down the company would cost nearly 18,000 jobs, he said.

The strike by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union began in Kansas on Nov. 9, and about 120 bakers in Billings joined the work stoppage the next day.

The company said that if the bakers don't return to work on Thursday, it will file a motion on Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to wind down operations and sell off all assets of Sweetheart, maker of WonderBread and Twinkies. A hearing could occur as early as Monday and, if the bankruptcy judge grants the motion, the company shutdown could start Tuesday, Rayburn said.

On the Billings picket line on Midland Road, Sweetheart managers came out Wednesday afternoon and handed strikers copies of Rayburn's liquidation promise.

But Eusebio Diaz, Billings business agent for the BCTGM Local 466, told managers that his members will not go back to work.

"Our local members want them to liquidate. We want new buyers to come in and buy us. This company isn't in good financial shape, and we want to take our chances with a new owner," Diaz said.

On Monday, Rayburn closed three bakeries in Seattle, St. Louis and Cincinnati blaming the shutdowns on the strike.

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