Hostess weighs fate of local facilities

Hostess Brands Inc., which announced in May the possible layoffs of 38 people at its facilities in Uncasville and Norwich, told the state this week that the company should know by next month whether it will need to close down its operations here.

Texas-based Hostess, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January, has announced up to 187 job reductions statewide if it is not able to work out an agreement to reorganize or if one of its unions decides to strike.

In its Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification sent to the state Department of Labor earlier this week, Hostess said it had seen a modified collective bargaining agreement approved by several unions, but not by one of the key ones - the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which the company said is "threatening to strike."

"The company has told all employees and the unions that in the event of a failure to ratify ... or a strike, the company will likely not be able to emerge successfully from bankruptcy," according to a letter dated Oct. 5 from Jeff Parlato, vice president of human resources and labor relations for Hostess.

This would mean selling off all or portions of the business, Parlato said, and might involve a liquidation and wind down of operations. He said the company should know by Nov. 15 whether the bankruptcy will go through.

The maker of Wonder Bread and Twinkies earlier had said layoffs would occur by July 6, but the company extended the timeline as it implemented changes to its union contracts that had been approved by the bankruptcy court.

Thirty-six of the local layoffs would occur at Hostess's Uncasville distribution facility and two would affect its Norwich retail site.

Hostess previously had said in letters forwarded to Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom and Montville Mayor Ronald K. McDaniel Jr. that both sites could be closed permanently.

The company, which does not bake any of its products in Connecticut, also has announced possible layoffs at sites in East Windsor, Cheshire and Bridgeport.

l.howard@theday.com

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