ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. - Twinkies-maker Hostess Brands says it has asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to allow it to close its business and sell its iconic brands.
Hostess Brands Inc., based in Irving, Texas, says it will cut all of its nearly 18,500 employees, at 33 bakeries nationwide.
It has a bakery, which employs 167 people, on East 62 Avenue near Interstate 25 in Adams County.
A Hostess spokesman told 7NEWS that today is the last day for a majority of the Denver bakery workers. He said retail stores may stay open a few more days until all baked items are sold.
They may not last long.
Customers who learned about the closures flocked to the Adams County bakery Friday. There was a line outside the front door most of the afternoon.
"I didn't expect to see a line," said a surprised Terri Maes. "I wanted Raspberry Zingers and Twinkies but they're already gone."
"It's the last Twinkie," said a satisfied Bob Anderson while hoisting up one of the packages he purchased earlier in the day.
Hostess had given striking members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers International Union elsewhere in the U.S. until 5 p.m. Thursday to get back to work or prompt the liquidation of the snack maker, which has been in bankruptcy court since January.
Earlier this week, Hostess announced it was permanently closing three bakeries following a nationwide strike by its bakers union.
Hostess said Monday that the strike had prevented it from producing and delivering products, and it closed bakeries in Seattle, St. Louis and Cincinnati.
"We deeply regret this decision, but we have repeatedly explained that we will close facilities that are no longer able to produce and deliver products because of a work stoppage -- and that we will close the entire company if widespread strikes cripple our business," CEO Gregory Rayburn warned.
Thousands of members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union went on strike Nov. 9 to protest cuts to wages and benefits under a new contract offer, which the union rejected in September. Union officials say the company stopped contributing to workers' pensions last year.
Hostess has argued that workers must make concessions as it tries to improve its financial position. The privately-held food maker filed for Chapter 11 protection in January, its second trip through bankruptcy court in less than a decade. Hostess cited increasing pension and medical costs for employees as one of the drivers behind its latest filing.
In a news release, Rayburn said the company offered its 12 unions a 25 percent ownership stake in the company, representation on the board and $100 million in reorganized debt.
Bakery Union President Frank Hurt said workers have already absorbed numerous wage and benefit cuts.
In a news release issued Thursday, Hurt said, "The crisis facing Hostess Brands is the result of nearly a decade of financial and operational mismanagement that resulted n two bankruptcies, mountains of debt, declining sales and lost market share."
Hurt said the company has had six CEOs in eight years, "none of whom had any bread and cake baking industry experience."
"Our members know that the plans all along of the Wall Street investors currently in control of this company did not include the operation of Hostess Brands any longer than it takes to sell the company in whole - or in part - in a way that will maximize the profits of these vulture capitalists regardless of the impact on the workforce," Hurt said.
"I just lost my job," said Eric Ladley, who's been delivering baked goods for four years. "You've just got to pull your boots up and move on. There isn't anything I can do about it."
The company, founded in 1930, is fighting battles beyond labor costs. There is increasing competition for shelf space in the snack industry, and Americans are becoming more health conscious.