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Hostess Blames Union For Bankruptcy After Tripling CEO’s Pay

November 19th, 2012 | Annie Rose Strasser

Today, Hostess Brands inc. — the company famed for its sickly sweet dessert snacks like Twinkies and Sno Balls — announced they’d be shuttering after more than eighty years of production.

But while headlines have been quick to blame unions for the downfall of the company there’s actually more to the story: While the company was filing for bankruptcy, for the second time, earlier this year, it actually tripled its CEO’s pay, and increased other executives’ compensation by as much as 80 percent.

At the time, creditors warned that the decision signaled an attempt to “sidestep” bankruptcy rules, potentially as a means for trying to keep the executive at a failing company. The Confectionery, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers International Union pointed this out in their written reaction to the news that the business is closing:

BCTGM members are well aware that as the company was preparing to file for bankruptcy earlier this year, the then CEO of Hostess was awarded a 300 percent raise (from approximately $750,000 to $2,550,000) and at least nine other top executives of the company received massive pay raises. One such executive received a pay increase from $500,000 to $900,000 and another received one taking his salary from $375,000 to $656,256.

Certainly, the company agreed to an out-sized pension debt, but the decision to pay executives more while scorning employee contracts during a bankruptcy reflects a lack of good managerial judgement.

It also follows a trend of rising CEO pay in times of economic difficulty. At the manufacturing company Caterpillar, for example, they froze workers’ pay while boosting their CEO’s pay to $17 million. And at Citigroup, CEO Vikram Pandit received $6.7 million for crashing his company, walking off with $260 million after the business lost 88 percent of its value.

This article was originally posted on Think Progress on November 16, 2012.

About the Author: Annie-Rose Strasser is a Reporter/Blogger for ThinkProgress. Before joining American Progress, she worked for the community organizing non-profit Center for Community Change as a new media specialist. Previously, Annie-Rose served as a press assistant for Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Annie-Rose holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from the George Washington University.


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3 Responses to “Hostess Blames Union For Bankruptcy After Tripling CEO’s Pay”

  1. Hostess Uses The Twinkie Defense to Shift Blame to Employees | Maryland Employment Law Developments Says:

    […] the downfall.  More galling is their recent grab for the remaining cash in the company.  As this article points out, the CEO got (took?) a 300 percent raise, to $2,550,000, as the company headed to bankruptcy court […]

  2. David M Says:

    Get real. While the executive pay may be too high in your eyes, it’s hardly the cause for the problems. Have you considered the 90+ different union agreements in place, the unrealistic pension plans, let alone the Company route restrictions. Your analysis is freshman-like and does not even explore the real issues.

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