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Ding Dongs: Labor brings down Hostess

Legend has it that Twinkies can survive a nuclear holocaust. Alas, they could not survive a mindlessly obstreperous (look it up) labor union.

Like GM and Chrysler, Hostess, maker of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and other baked goods, bore an enormous burden of imprudent labor contracts. Business Insider reported in January that "rising labor costs are really killing the company's balance sheet." According to the company's bankruptcy filings, "an astonishing 97 percent of the company's unsecured claims are from employee pension funds, totaling nearly $1 billion."

As The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, "Hostess ultimately was brought to its knees by a national strike orchestrated by its second-largest union." That would be the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union (BCTGM). The company's largest union, the Teamsters, agreed to major concessions after union leaders were granted access to the company's books. According to the Associated Press, the Teamsters urged the BCTGM to rethink the strike, saying that Hostess really could no longer afford the generous, previously agreed upon contract. The smaller union refused. One BCTGM worker shouted from a picket line last week, "Shut it down!"

Well, they got what they wanted. Roughly 18,500 people are suddenly jobless. The union employees who held out for nearly $1 billion in pension obligations are out both the pensions and their jobs. What stellar work.

It is long past time that Big Labor, in both the public and private sectors, stopped living in fantasy land. Lavish pensions and uncompetitive wages are relics of a bygone era. They are not coming back, at least until the rest of the world catches up to our living standards, which, to say the least, is going to take a while.

Business owners and taxpayers are not bottomless wells of cash to be drained for the benefit of workers. There is only one destination for workers and labor leaders who continue to indulge in that fantasy: unemployment.

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