Here’s post that I wrote in February of 2013. On this labor Day of 2014 it bears repeating.
The question was a reply to Montebourg insistence that negotiations between Titan and the French government resume after Taylor pointed out the shortcomings of France’s unionized workers.
Taylor painted an unflattering portrait of French workers as lazy, overpaid and coddled by their Socialist government. Taylor averred that French employees only worked three hours a day. “They have an hour for their breaks and their lunches, chat for three hours and work for three hours,” said Taylor in a letter that was made available to the French media.
European unions share a similar penchant for running companies into the ground with their American counterparts. Hostess Brands, the maker of the iconic “Twinkies” cake is in the process of liquidating the company that will cost the jobs of 18,500 workers because of union intransigence.
Hostess, despite its excellent sales volume, was put out of business because the Bakers Union would not change its restrictive rules. In January 2012, the company filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. In a statement in its filing, the company said it “is not competitive, primarily due to legacy pension and medical benefit obligations and restrictive work rules.”
One worker’s comment says it all, after the company stopped paying into the pension plan, “We understand that, should we pursue some form of legal action to require the company to live up to the terms of the contract, they may close, but we have come to believe that they will close anyway. We believe the company is poorly managed and the only hope is a complete change in management.”
After two-thirds of the union employees agreed to wage and work rule concessions, The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International Union (BCTGM), which represents 6,600 Hostess employees, took strike action after the contract proposal from Hostess Brands was rejected by 92 percent of its members.
Hostess almost immediately announced the closing of their plants and the dismissal of their 18,500 employees. The company began taking bids on the sale of their product lines.
It was announced on January 28, 2013 that the United States Bakery was the leading bidder for the Sweetheart, Eddy’s, Standish Farms and Grandma Emilie’s brands, while McKee Foods are the leading bidder for Hostess’s Drake’s brand, including Ring Dings, Yodels, Devil Dogs.
(Of the eleven bakeries operated by Old HB, Hostess Brands retained four, in Columbus, Georgia; Emporia, Kansas; Indianapolis and Schiller Park, Illinois. The Schiller Park facility is scheduled to close in October 2014.)
The General Motors Bankruptcy is a classic example of a union using its political connections to turn the law on its head. When GM announced that they would go bankrupt if they didn’t get a federal bailout, the Obama administration went into action.
Rather than allowing the bankruptcy to proceed in a normal manner, the administration stepped in and manipulated the proceedings to give the unions preferential treatment at the expense of the bondholders, many of who were retired GM employees.
While the United Auto Workers union and the U.S. Government received the lion’s share of the stock in the “New” GM, the bondholders lost almost their entire investment. Now GM is back in court with a federal judge in New York ruling soon on a case that could reverse the entire agreement and send the company back into bankruptcy.
(A bankruptcy judge’s decision that a General Motors Co. (GM) customer failed to state a valid claim against the estate of so-called Old GM was upheld by a federal judge in Manhattan.)