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Hostess Union Says Flowers Offers No Assurance for Workers

Feb. 25 (Bloomberg) -- The union representing bankrupt Hostess Brands Inc.’s fired bakery workers said the bids by Flowers Foods Inc. for company brands offer no guarantees for workers.

“While the debtor’s secured lenders may view Flowers’ bids as the ’best’ for getting themselves paid, Flowers’ bids provide zero assurances that the rights of the debtors’ workers will be protected,” the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union and the Bakery and Confectionery Union and Industry International Pension Fund said in court papers filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, New York.

Flowers Foods submitted the lead bids for most of the company’s bread-baking operations to be sold at a Feb. 28 auction. Flowers Foods, based in Thomasville, Georgia, offered $360 million for the Wonder, Butternut, Home Pride, Merita and Nature’s Pride brands, 20 bakeries and 38 depots and offered $30 million for the Beefsteak brand. A March 19 hearing has been set to authorize the sale to the highest or otherwise best bidders.

A standoff with striking union workers triggered liquidation auctions of Hostess’s brands, recipes, plants and other assets. The bakers union went on strike Nov. 9 after U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain in White Plains imposed contract concessions opposed by more than 90 percent of the union’s members. The union represents more than 5,000 Hostess workers.

Labor Laws

The union and the pension fund said that while they “welcome a sale” of the assets, “any consideration of the ‘highest and best’ offer” for the bread businesses “must include consideration of the bidder’s commitment to the preservation of jobs, recognition of the rights of workers, and compliance with labor laws,” according to court papers.

Tom Becker, a Hostess spokesman, declined to comment on the filing. Keith Hancock, a spokesman for Flowers Foods, didn’t immediately respond to a request seeking comment on the filing.

The case is In re Hostess Brands Inc., 12-22052, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (White Plains).

To contact the reporter on this story: Dawn McCarty in Wilmington at dmccarty@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at jpickering@bloomberg.net

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