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Posted: 4:18 p.m. Monday, April 29, 2013

Hostess Brands: We won’t shun union applicants

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By Christopher Seward

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Hostess Brands, which is hiring for several bakeries, including one in Columbus, emphasized Monday it will not discriminate against applicants on the basis of union membership or union activities.

The strident effort to clear the air on its hiring plans followed comments last week by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dean Metropoulos, who suggested the company would be staffing plants with non-union labor.

Under the headline “New Twinkie Maker Shuns Union,” Metropoulos reportedly told WSJ the company does “not expect to be involved in the union going forward.”

In a statement Monday, Hostess Brands said “statements attributed to various Hostess officials were incomplete and did not reflect the company’s policies.”

“Hostess intends to hire the most qualified applicants, regardless of their age, race, gender, or prior or current union affiliation,” the company said. It added “none of the company representatives stated or intended to imply that Hostess will be avoiding union-represented employees or job applicants.”

When it filed for bankruptcy last year, the former Hostess Brands blamed the bakers union for forcing it out of business. The company was able to reach a new contract agreement with its largest union, the Teamsters, but the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers International Union rejected the terms and went on strike Nov. 9. A week later, Hostess announced plans to liquidate, saying the strike crippled its ability to maintain normal production.

David Durkee, international president of the bakers union, said he was “extremely disappointed” in the recent comments about union employees. “Ideally, we would like to see as many of our members hired as possible,” Durkee said in a statement. “Our members are eager and willing to return to these snack plants and help usher in a new period of prosperity for Hostess snack cakes.”

In March, Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co. purchased assets of Hostess, which was in bankruptcy. Apollo and Metropoulos agreed to pay $410 million to purchase the Hostess and Dolly Madison brands, five bakeries and equipment. The buyers retained the “Hostess Brands” name in creating a new company.

Last week, the new owners of Hostess Brands said they plan to reopen the company’s Columbus plant this summer and eventually employ more than 300 workers. The company held a job fair over the weekend. The company is initially recruiting for 200 positions in production, sanitation, distribution, maintenance engineering and management, and it will add more than 100 workers in the years to come.

The company is also opening bakeries in Emporia, Kansas; Indianapolis, Ind.; and Schiller Park, Ill.

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