° empty

Union could cost its members jobs, U.S. bread

Empty bread shelves in Natchez-area stores normally mean one thing: a storm is brewing in the Gulf of Mexico.

But late last week, the sight indicated a storm of a different kind brewing across the country.

Hostess — makers of snacks such as Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Ho Ho’s and a number of other baked bread products — simply threw up its hands after being embroiled in a labor union battle.

The company said, essentially, “We must have a better deal or the company will close.”

The union wouldn’t give, now thousands are without jobs and shelves all over the place are without products that were still sought after by consumers. Late Monday, the company and union announced plans to go to mediation, offering a slight hope of a compromise.

If the mediation fails, will union members feel as if they won? The business is bankrupt and will likely begin trying to break itself up and sell parts to former competitors.

That’s good news for fans of Twinkies, since that brand will almost certainly win a buyer and be reborn, but it’s unfortunate for other Hostess brands and the workers who produced them.

It’s quite likely that by the time their brands are sold and potentially resurrected, consumers will have moved their loyalty elsewhere.

Local residents saw a similar set of circumstances play out when a union dispute led to the closing of Titan Tire of Natchez in 2001.

If our country is to succeed and our economy is to flourish, our nation must come to grips with the fact that businesses must be profitable, or they’ll close.

That starts with having a stable economic climate at the national level. Then it trickles down to having workers who realize that sometimes labor unions play “chicken” with their members’ futures and lose.

If you want evidence, go look at the empty bread shelves and ask, “Did this have to happen?”

 

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