More than 18,000 people are without jobs around the country as Hostess moves to liquidate its assets and close forevermore.
The company had a good run of nearly 83 years, starting up at the onset of the Great Depression.
Times were different then. People wanted jobs — even begged for jobs — and would take just about anything offered to them. Simply put: Workers were hungry.
Then came the Great Recession, as some have called it, of this millennium. Hostess — the giant retailer of baked goods with a roster of names such as Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Sno Balls — found itself on the losing end of basic economics.
Sure, there was demand. Sure, there were relatively cheap supplies.
But, nope, there was no longer a cheap workforce.
Somewhere between the Great Depression and Great Recession, the factory climate changed. Unions took over.
While unions ardently fought for decades to provide decent living wages and benefits for employees, they simply got too big for their own good. Many evolved into something that was not the spirit in which they were created.
Factories in the Rust Belt and elsewhere laid off workers and suffered through bitter strikes. Some ultimately shut down production lines as union demands grew beyond companies’ pocketbooks.
Power of the unions, as it turned out, was an illusion.
There’s little incentive for many factories to put up with unions if they can get big dollar incentives to relocate to another place — whether it’s Mexico, China or another state — and find a surplus of unskilled or skilled laborers who will work for a decent, albeit lesser, wage.
It’s basic math. And as times got tough in the recent recession, the executives at the top started really digging deep for savings.
Unions, in turn, started really digging in their heels. Some, to be fair, made incredible concessions to keep their workers working. But many decided to demand more — lower health care deductibles and premiums, higher wages, better benefits.
And, in the case of Hostess, these workers and their communities were stuck with a real zinger when the union failed to come through for them: no jobs.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.