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As Hostess Folds, Fredericksburg Workers Lose Jobs

The distribution center and bakery outlet store at 1323 Powhatan St. will close along with nearly 600 others nationwide after company fails to end strike.

Early Friday morning, a steady flow of customers came to purchase what remained on the shelves at Fredericksburg's Bakery Thriftshop after news that Hostess Brands, Inc. — which supplies much of the shop's goods — is going out of business.

"I've been coming here for five years," said Fredericksburg resident Cherrie Johnson, who didn't learn of the closure until she came to the store Friday morning. "A lot of families come here because you can't beat the prices. I can sometimes buy a Wonder Bread Smart Loaf for 99 cents."

The closure comes after a months-long attempt by Hostess — the makers of  Twinkies, Wonderbread and Ding Dongs — to settle a nationwide strike initiated by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM).

But today, the company said it does "not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike,” said Gregory F. Rayburn, chief executive officer, in a press release. “Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders.”

According to the release, that means the closure of "33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes and 570 bakery outlet stores throughout the United States."

The manager of Fredericksburg's Hostess - Wonder Bread distribution center, located next to the shop, had no comment Friday morning as he stood just inside the garage with three other men.

"A few people have lost their jobs," he said, declining to give any number and saying he wasn't allowed to talk to the media.

"The thrift shop is going to be open a little while longer, but I don't know how long," said the woman working the cash register in the Fredericksburg shop. 

With many shelves already emptied, customers were buying what may be the last of Wonder Bread, and other Hostess brands including Drakes, Dolly Madison, Nature's Pride and Merita.

Johnson said she usually visits the store every two weeks to stock up, freezing the bread to keep it fresh. 

"I was raised on Wonder Bread," Johnson said.  I'm going to miss it."

Hostess Brands is asking for court permission to sell its baking and distribution facilities around the country, and its popular brands, including Hostess, Drakes and Dolly Madison, which make iconic cake products such as Twinkies, CupCakes, Ding Dongs, Ho Ho’s, Sno Balls and Donettes.

It also asked the court "for authority to continue to pay employees whose services are required during the wind-down period," according to the release.

It's not clear what that means for the Fredericksburg shop.

Dale Swanson November 17, 2012 at 12:13 AM
I you voted for Obama, call him up and thank him for the loss of your job.
Hamilton November 17, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Tough times together with labor controlled mostly by unions were the downfall. I expect a Chinese firm to buy the brand names. Look for imported twinkies w shelf life of 2 yrs coming to a store near you.

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