Hostess Workers in Waterloo Both Upset and Angry at Shutdown

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

WATERLOO, Iowa - The national shutdown of Hostess Brands, Inc. will close facilities in Waterloo along with 33 other bakeries But while some workers leaving for the final time Friday said the writing was on the wall, others expressed shock that both sides couldn't reach a deal at the last minute.

Workers at the bakery, 325 Commercial Street, came to work as usual Friday morning. But all were quickly told that production would come to a halt and they needed to leave. Unionized workers in Waterloo had continued production and had not joined the walkout at other Hostess bakeries and distribution centers.

Workers leaving after the shutdown express a mixture of unhappiness and even anger. Several told reporters that top corporate management wasn't telling the whole story about the strike. Workers claimed top managers gave themselves big bonuses earlier this year and then expected workers to take cuts to pay for it.

One bakery employee, David Hall, said fellow workers shouldn't have been shocked it came to this.

"Everybody knew it was coming for months so it was not a surprise," Hall said.

But Tyrone Thompson, a bakery work for five and a half years, had called himself an optimist that both sides would step away from the cliff.

"Some couldn't believe it (closing news)...they're still in shock. It's not the workers, it's the people over us," Thompson said.

A business agent for the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco & Grain Millers union (BCTGM) based in Davenport said workers at the bakery in Waterloo had voted 39 to 1 against the company's final contract offer. Another approximately 20 truckers are also impacted at a Waterloo distribution center. Teamster members nationwide had accepted the company offer earlier.

The business agent said details about the shutdown weren't available Friday morning.

While the company announced plans to sell the iconic brands like Wonder Bread and Hostess Twinkies to the highest bidder, there is no guarantee someone else will restart production.

Lines stretched 15 to 20 minutes long at a Waterloo Hostess Bakery Outlet while buyers snatched up remaining stocks of favorite items.

Nicky Grusha, along with his wife Melody, stood in line to get what they could. Grusha said he would miss memories of the Waterloo bakery.

"The memories of the last 25 years, i'd go to the library and smell the freshg bread being baked by the bakery located right beside it," he said.

Workers at the plant said even if someone buys the famous Hostess brands, they don't expect production to restart at the Waterloo bakery.
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