Customers Search for Twinkies, Employees for Jobs at Marion Bakery Outlet

By Chris Earl, Reporter

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By Liz Blood

MARION, Iowa - Even by 10:30 a.m. on Friday, the Twinkies and the Ding Dongs were gone from the shelves of the Wonder Hostess Bakery Outlet on Blairs Ferry Road in Marion. By mid-afternoon, most of the sweet items had made their way out, leaving hamburger buns and Wonder bread behind.

"I like the Ding Dongs and the Twinkies," said Dave Hlas of Marion, armed with multiple bags of Donettes mini-donuts.

Yet this Friday was also a most unusual one for Susan Merrifield. She spent most of her work shift at the front of the store, checking out customers on this very busy Friday. Only she found out Hostess would be liquidating assets before she came in.

"The news," Merrifield answered when asked how she found out her company was shutting down. "Just like everybody else today. About seven o'clock in the morning."

Merrifield still came to work, her mind split between getting through the day and thinking about where her next job will be.

"I didn't think it would be that difficult or that it would be that hard but coming here and seeing everything disappearing and all the people coming in and you can feel the end coming," said Merrifield. "I am holding it together."

Merrifield said plenty of customers asked "where are the Twinkies?" and that, on this week before Thanksgiving, she will have to look for another job.

Jim Ryan, of Hiawatha, said he has been coming to this store for 30 years.

"I wanted some rye bread," Ryan said in the parking lot Friday afternoon. Yet it turns out Ryan is very familiar with the situation that led to a gap between Hostess and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union, which was striking at about 20 facilities nationwide.

Ryan is a retired Teamster and said he had been a union steward for many years, negotiating with management on behalf of his workers.

"It's too bad the union couldn't negotiate something that would have worked," said Ryan. The International Teamsters Union did have an agreement in place with Hostess from September, accepting pay and benefit cuts to workers.

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