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This I Believe

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A broadcast of “This I Believe,” by Ralph Nafziger, founder of Hostess, in the 1950s:

The most important thing to for me to remember is that what I want is not necessarily what other people want. Thinking of what people want does not start with self; it starts with the Golden Rule. It comes from the heart. Basically, a person must love others. One must feel for others, before he thinks for them. Success will often elude the man ambitious for his own gain, and choose instead to bestow its rewards upon the man who finds the answer to the question, “How can I help others in what I do?” I believe that people often do not know themselves what they want, but they respond enthusiastically when some benefactors offers them the answer. The person who has this gift of knowing what other people want in life is like a Christmas card, continually wishing other success, happiness and a long life. A person who develops this eighth and ninth sense, is on the way to success. Really, the only people hard to understand are the dishonest and abnormal ones. Fortunately, most people are fundamentally sound, honest, and upright. Knowing what people want and providing it for them can bring the material rewards of this life and the biggest bonus of them all: true, eminent, satisfaction. This I believe: the most direct path to personal happiness is to make other people happy.

Hostess today:

Hostess Brands — the maker of such iconic baked goods as Twinkies, Drake’s Devil Dogs and Wonder Bread — announced Friday that it is asking a federal bankruptcy court for permission to close its operations, blaming a strike by bakers protesting a new contract imposed on them.

The closing will result in Hostess’ nearly 18,500 workers losing their jobs as the company shuts 33 bakeries and 565 distribution centers nationwide, as well as 570 outlet stores. The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union represents around 5,000 Hostess employees.

“We deeply regret the necessity of today’s decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike,” said CEO Gregory Rayburn in a statement.

Hostess will move to sell its assets to the highest bidder. That could mean new life for some of its most popular products, which could be scooped up at auction and attached to products from other companies.

A letter that Hostess sent to its network of stores that carry its product said it expects “there will be great interest in our brands.” But it said it could not give a time frame for when the sales would take place and its products would be available again.

But even if those brands are bought and restarted, the Hostess workers will not get their jobs back.


Laura Clawson with analysis:

Of course, Hostess management had already claimed that the strike would be responsible for the closings of specific plants—when it had already planned to close plants even if the workers accepted the cuts and stayed at work. BCTGM President Frank Hurt says the workers understood who they were dealing with:

Our members know that the plans all along of the Wall Street investors currently in control of this company did not include the operation of Hostess Brands any longer than it takes to sell the company in whole—or in part—in a way that will maximize the profits of these vulture capitalists regardless of the impact on the workforce.

Workers were being asked to accept cuts, but top executives had gotten massive raises as Hostess was about to enter bankruptcy. Investments in the company’s future that had been promised as part of restructuring after the previous bankruptcy were never made. And as for the management, put in place by the private equity companies that now own Hostess, Hurt says:

Unfortunately however, for the past eight years management of the company has been in the hands of Wall Street investors, “restructuring experts”, third-tier managers from other non-baking food companies and currently a “liquidation specialist”. Six CEO’s in eight years, none of whom with any bread and cake baking industry experience, was the prescription for failure.

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