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Hostess layoffs could affect 38 in Norwich, Uncasville

By Lee Howard

Publication: The Day

Published May 16. 2012 4:00AM

Hostess Brands Inc., which filed for bankruptcy protection in January, has notified the state that it is bracing for up to 38 layoffs at facilities in Uncasville and Norwich, just a portion of a possible 187 job reductions throughout Connecticut.

The layoffs at the maker of Wonder Bread and Twinkies would occur around July 6 if necessary, according to a filing on a state Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification site. The notification said up to 36 of the layoffs could occur at Hostess's Uncasville distribution facility and two could happen at its Norwich retail site.

"On May 4th, we mailed conditional WARN notices to all 18,500 Hostess Brands employees around the country," said Hostess spokesman Erik Halvorson in an email. "The notices were sent to alert employees that a sale or wind down of the company is possible in the future."

Both sites may be closed permanently, according to notification letters forwarded to Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom and Montville Mayor Ronald K. McDaniel Jr.

"The company has been actively engaged in discussions with various lenders and potential purchasers regarding Hostess's restructuring," the letters said. "Our primary focus is to complete our restructuring of the company and emerge from Chapter 11 (bankruptcy) as a viable company."

The layoffs are part of a nationwide restructuring of the company that could lead to more than 20 percent of Hostess's workforce being laid off in the coming weeks, according to the notification.

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

The notice said company employees are represented by as many as 12 unions, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union.

Hostess Brands filed for bankruptcy eight years after a predecessor company, Interstate Bakeries, also failed. Interstate emerged from bankruptcy as Hostess Brands just three years ago.

l.howard@theday.com

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