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Old 11-21-2012, 12:58 AM #106
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Everyone participating in this thread owes it to themselves to educate themselves on the union members' point of view, since it has been the least-reported part of the whole story. Bleat about the site this post is on if you like, but this is a mostly objective reporting of what the bakers were facing.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/1...ostess-Bankery

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Wonder Bread runs deep in my family. I started at Interstate Bakeries in 1999 in Waterloo, Ia after the birth of my first daughter. I asked my father in law who to talk to for an interview. He had spent his entire adult life there, eventually retiring in 2007. His father drew retirement from the very same bakery. My wife and her sisters experienced a truly middle class Midwestern upbringing, complete with a safe home environment, college educations, and health insurance. He went to work everyday knowing he would be able to retire and draw his pension. He was even able to pass the job down to his son in law.

I love Wonder Bread. It has supported our family financially and medically for the last 14 years. When my wife wanted to attend graduate school we found a university near a bakery and moved to Lawrence, KS, home of the greatest basketball team in the history of ever. I will miss the overwhelming smell of baking bread and the friendships I built at both bakeries. Including with engineers, truck drivers, supervisors and managers who have also lost their jobs.

Many of them likely blame the Bakers Union, me. Most understand that this was inevitable. There has been no confidence in the leadership of this company at any level of any department for years. We have watched 6 CEO's come and go since 2002 and all of them left the company worse than when they took over. All of them got paid, not just the salaries they agreed to, but bonuses and increases all along the way. Including the current joker, who announced he was leaving with less than a year on the job, before he even submitted this last contract offer to us.

When I received my first paycheck from then Interstate Bakeries in 1999 it had a memo stapled to it. The memo announced that Wonder had just had the most productive quarter in baking history. It stated that the health of the company and brand had never been better. The break room was buzzing with excitement because our contract was soon to be up for renegotiation and this would surely mean smooth sailing. A few weeks later we got the 'oops' letter. Turns out it was all an 'accounting' error and the company was failing miserably.

Conveniently though, CEO Charles Sullivan and the board managed to sell their stock before word got out about the bad news. No jail time of course. In fact, Sullivan was brought back as a consultant after his resignation. Enron happened a few years later and at the bakery we were amazed how much attention they got compared to us.

The company of course used it's 'oops' letter to justify asking for concessions from the Union. We gave nothing and gained nothing that year after a 45 minute strike. The status quo continued and I proudly joined the middle class for the first time in my life. I made $14 an hour and had insurance. I even went on vacations for the first time. I had great pride in my job, and the products. We bought a new car for the first and only time in my life. In 2003 I transferred to the Lenexa, KS bakery.

In 2005 it was another contract year and this time there was no way out of concessions. The Union negotiated a deal that would save the company $150 million a year in labor. It was a tough internal battle to get people to vote for it. We turned it down twice. Finally the Union told us it was in our best interest and something had to give. So many of us, including myself, changed our votes and took the offer. Remember that next time you see CEO Rayburn on tv stating that we haven't sacrificed for this company. The company then emerged from bankruptcy. In 2005 before concessions I made $48,000, last year I made $34,000. My pay changed dramatically but at least I was still contributing to my self-funded pension.

In July of 2011 we received a letter from the company. It said that the $3+ per hour that we as a Union contribute to the pension was going to be 'borrowed' by the company until they could be profitable again. Then they would pay it all back. The Union was notified of this the same time and method as the individual members. No contact from the company to the Union on a national level.

This money will never be paid back. The company filed for bankruptcy and the judge ruled that the $3+ per hour was a debt the company couldn't repay. The Union continued to work despite this theft of our self-funded pension contributions for over a year. I consider this money stolen. No other word in the English language describes what they have done to this money.

After securing our hourly cash from the bankruptcy judge they set out on getting approval to force a new contract on us. They had already refused to negotiate outside of court. They received approval from the judge to impose the contract then turned it over to the Union for a vote. You read that right, they got it approved by the judge before ever showing to the Union.

What was this last/best/final offer? You'd never know by watching the main stream media tell the story. So here you go...
1) 8% hourly pay cut in year 1 with additional cuts totaling 27% over 5 years. Currently, I make $16.12 an hour at TOP rate of pay in the bakery. I would drop to $11.26 in 5 years.
2) They get to keep our $3+ an hour forever.
3) Doubling of weekly insurance premium.
4) Lowering of overall quality of insurance plan.
5) TOTAL withdrawal from ALL pensions. If you don't have it now then you never will.

Remember how I said I made $48,000 in 2005 and $34,000 last year? I would make $25,000 in 5 years if I took their offer.
It will be hard to replace the job I had, but it will be easy to replace the job they were trying to give me.
That $3+ per hour they steal totaled $50 million last year that they never paid us. They sold $2.5 BILLION in product last year. If they can't make this profitable without stealing my money then good riddance.

I keep hearing how this strike forced them to liquidate. How we should just take it and be glad to have a job. What an unpatriotic view point. The reason these jobs provided me with a middle class opportunity is because people like my father in law and his father fought for my Union rights. I received that pay and those benefits because previous Union members fought for them. I won't sell them, or my coworkers, out.

We may have forced the companies hand but they were going to smack us with it anyway.
These people are heroes if you ask me, and this situation is an absolutely disgusting reflection on where we are as a nation after 30 years of Reaganomics.
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Old 11-21-2012, 01:17 AM #107
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damn, i wish i made $25k/year. i'll take his job.
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Old 11-21-2012, 09:29 AM #108
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Well you've touched on a major growing problem with America today. If all America is doing is reselling stuff others make and letting its own culture go bad in the meantime, that's a recipe for decline.

Investments in culture need to be made, if all we are is a market, other markets can and will eventually compete with us and quite probably beat us out.
I'm not confident culture is something you can invest in. Shakespeare was more or less subsidized by the royalty to work. However, the important point is, his work was profoundly English, and represented everything Elizabethan England was.

Culture comes from identity. If we are having an identity crisis, we won't stop the decline until that crisis is solved. You can throw all the money in the world at art, but it won't make your Mozart's or your Shakespeare's. The recording industry is evidence of that.
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Old 11-21-2012, 10:02 AM #109
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Looks like the hostess CEO raised his salary to 2.5 million a year just before leaving outta nowhere while preparing to file bankruptcy. As sleazy as the guys running the company were, I still.feel like unions are a horrific and unnecessary group taking over the labor force.
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Old 11-21-2012, 11:02 AM #110
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Looks like the hostess CEO raised his salary to 2.5 million a year just before leaving outta nowhere while preparing to file bankruptcy. As sleazy as the guys running the company were, I still.feel like unions are a horrific and unnecessary group taking over the labor force.
So regardless of all the evidence that has presented to you you are going to continue to blame the unions to maintain your predetermined view.

You are the worst kind of misinformed voter.
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Old 11-21-2012, 12:33 PM #111
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See, the problem with liberals, (and liberals that write stories like that) is that they ALWAYS use the bias of omission.

Notice, there is not a single word about how the union was getting a Cadillac health care plan, and those have been HAMMERED by Obamacare, (well, EVERY healthcare plan has been hammered, but especially GOOD healthcare).

Well, I take that back, they did leave this in...

"3) Doubling of weekly insurance premium.
4) Lowering of overall quality of insurance plan."

Welcome to "universal" healthcare union guy...

We "regular" people saw our benefits SLASHED 3 years ago, and then we watched at our rates skyrocketed with LOWER benefits for the past 3 years. You had a contract, so you didn't see those costs skyrocket. (and who pays the addition costs?... Oh, yeah, a company in trouble economically aka Hostess).

The author of the article knows that employee costs are the most expensive for any company, and Obamacare caused healthcare costs to SKYROCKET, since the government is taking over 1/6 of our economy with Obamacare. And setting up NEW government is never "cheap".

But, union guy doesn't realize this added cost made his "pay" actually MUCH higher than what he is reporting, as no one figures just an hourly rate... They also consider benefits, and healthcare (no matter what liberals tell you that it is a "right" or something) Healthcare is a BENEFIT, that will be gone thanks to Obamacare... The majority of you will be on a government plan within 5 years.

WITH COSTS associated. When costs go up, the company passes on those costs in higher prices at the store, but when people stop buying their product, they have to LOWER those costs. And then they have to figure out ways to reduce costs... Well, healthcare is a HUGE part of that cost.


Then you have all the other things the article omitted. Like the government changing the packaging requirements, did you know most bakeries buy in bulk and use that packaging for years... But, if the government in their "brilliance" decides to just force companies to say... change what their "nutrition facts" has to have on it... Well, throw away all that packaging, and BUY MORE.

Who pays for that?... Oh yeah, the company...

Then the government forces oil companies to use corn for fuel, and what does that do? It makes the price of a gallon of gas go up, but not only that, it also makes the price of anything else that farmer makes go up as well, because they use oil to farm, and if they are getting a premium for corn, (because the oil companies are required by law (again the government) to use 10% ethanol then guess what, the prices of other things like GRAIN (hmm, used in a bakery) then skyrockets as well.

Then a bakery has to deliver its product to stores through drivers, and they use gas... That has skyrocketed from $1.50 a gallon to $3.50 a gallon...

Guess what... They are now going out of business.

Liberalism, pretend that things aren't happening, by using the bias of omission, and the silly people buy it hook, line and sinker...

Big government caused this mess, and it will only get worse. Don't say I didn't warn you...
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Old 11-21-2012, 01:10 PM #112
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Just like you use omission bias to ignore the massive bonuses the CEO awarded himself while they couldn't afford concessions, and the failure of management of this company. Sigh.
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Old 11-21-2012, 01:14 PM #113
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Liberalism, pretend that things aren't happening, by using the bias of omission, and the silly people buy it hook, line and sinker...
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Old 11-21-2012, 01:30 PM #114
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damn, i wish i made $25k/year. i'll take his job.
It says everything we need to know about you and your value here that you aspire to a $25,000/yr job. Yet again, grow up.
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Old 11-21-2012, 01:57 PM #115
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blah blah blah
Meanwhile, other food companies are doing perfectly fine.

You'd think that if the government were to blame for this, it'd be a universal situation, seeing as all companies are governed by the same people.
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Old 11-21-2012, 02:09 PM #116
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The pension theft may be the most galling part of this article. That is just sickening.

Also, employees need to get first priority in bankruptcy. This would be a market-based solution to improving credit standards.
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Old 11-21-2012, 02:33 PM #117
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It says everything we need to know about you and your value here that you aspire to a $25,000/yr job. Yet again, grow up.
Perhaps you should grow the **** up. What the **** is wrong with earning $25k/year? Not up to your standards? Well piss off then. We don't all aspire to live in gated communities, driving 3 different cars with a **** wife and a bunch of spoiled brat kids.

I make LESS than $25k/year, own a house, a nice car, and I am completely content with my life. ****ing moron. You are what's wrong with society. Yes, let's make more money so we may consume the maximum amount of bull****. Only then are we acceptable citizens.
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Old 11-21-2012, 03:08 PM #118
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So regardless of all the evidence that has presented to you you are going to continue to blame the unions to maintain your predetermined view.

You are the worst kind of misinformed voter.
Oh yes because clearly ALL businesses that go under or fall in to financial crisis are due to absolutely nothing but owners trying to swoop up extra money. Heaven forbid that someone thinks there may be other factors to other businesses being placed in their situations because of a group "fighting" for their member's rights and higher pay, etc.

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It says everything we need to know about you and your value here that you aspire to a $25,000/yr job. Yet again, grow up.
Or perhaps it says more along the lines of:

I currently make about $12,000/yr doing what I do right now. Maybe I would love to do something with roughly equivalent required skill level and make double what I make now with added benefits. How about you grow up sir, and stop assuming everything everyone you disapprove of says is evil words of people who are set out to destroy the world or take advantage of others or whatever in the hell it is you think about everyone else. I am truly sorry we can't all make as much as you do, and I am sorry I don't have your incredible school union that does so much for you and your personal benefit.
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Old 11-21-2012, 03:09 PM #119
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Wow, just wow. So telling. So telling. Angrily defending the right to be held in the lower class with no aspirations for even a fraction of the American dream. And thinking I'm what's wrong with the country.
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Old 11-21-2012, 03:19 PM #120
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Originally Posted by drgonzo
Wow, just wow. So telling. So telling. Angrily defending the right to be held in the lower class with no aspirations for even a fraction of the American dream. And thinking I'm what's wrong with the country.
Not everyone wants the same things in life. There is no universal American dream. We are so diverse with so many ideals that what one person earns in a year another spends on haircuts. There is nothing wrong with that (as long as you aren't freeloading).
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Old 11-21-2012, 03:25 PM #121
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Wow, just wow. So telling. So telling. Angrily defending the right to be held in the lower class with no aspirations for even a fraction of the American dream. And thinking I'm what's wrong with the country.
Yes, it is quite telling. And unfortunately I am very angry with you for saying such foolish things. Your ignorance is overwhelming.
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Old 11-21-2012, 03:30 PM #122
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Not everyone wants the same things in life. There is no universal American dream. We are so diverse with so many ideals that what one person earns in a year another spends on haircuts. There is nothing wrong with that (as long as you aren't freeloading).
While there is no one definition of American Dream, the definitions all center around social and economic mobility, certain societal values, and a certain standard of living.

You can't say that the American Dream is being single and subsisting on a poverty-level income (or perhaps to use a concept you may find more relatable, on welfare) simply because one person aspires to that. That's effectively what you are doing here.

Come to think of it, quite to the contrary of claims, our two friends above, in fact, literally depict what is wrong with this country. The American Dream has become so elusive that people actually aspire to poor wages and living alone or childless in poor areas of the country. That is both sad and illustrative.

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Yes, it is quite telling. And unfortunately I am very angry with you for saying such foolish things. Your ignorance is overwhelming.
I wish what I was saying was foolish or ignorant. Unfortunately it is hard-learned truth. Rather, your outlook represents ignorance that is actually damaging to the country. Have some respect for yourself and your generation. Learn your history, figure out what happened, and demand better.
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Old 11-21-2012, 03:35 PM #123
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Wow, just wow. So telling. So telling. Angrily defending the right to be held in the lower class with no aspirations for even a fraction of the American dream. And thinking I'm what's wrong with the country.
Or... perhaps I would love a job that pays twice what mine currently does with better benefits while going to school....

However, if you must know what the average salary is of the job I am aspiring to obtain, then I shall tell you it is about $50k/yr depending on skill level. Now throw in my business degree and add a management or senior position above the first sentence and you can double that starting salary. Grow up gonzo.

I live in California gonzo. A studio apartment here in an area where murder doesn't happen very often costs more than $500/month. Oh and don't forget to add groceries, all insurances, utilities, etc.
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Old 11-21-2012, 03:35 PM #124
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LOL

Wow I really can't believe you. Does it bother you so much that I find happiness while having much less? Doesn't fit your agenda that I won't be contributing as much in taxes or what? What's the problem here?

I am "what's wrong with this country" because I am content living this way?? REALLY? That is so unbelievably laughable. So because my goals in life do not align with yours, I am what is wrong with this country. YOU thinking that I need to live at a certain standard, is what is wrong.
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Old 11-21-2012, 03:39 PM #125
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Or... perhaps I would love a job that pays twice what mine currently does with better benefits while going to school....
You do understand that these are full-time day careers right?

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I live in California gonzo. A studio apartment here in an area where murder doesn't happen very often costs more than $500/month. Oh and don't forget to add groceries, all insurances, utilities, etc.
You're not going to win any cost of living arguments with me.
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Old 11-21-2012, 03:42 PM #126
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You do understand that these are full-time day careers right?



You're not going to win any cost of living arguments with me.
Yes I understand. I am going to school the 2nd half of the day while working the 1st half.


Unless you live in New York city, I could probably guess the cost of living in CA is probably higher than where you live. Or do you consider a part of the cost of your living as some high end lifestyle you have created for yourself?
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