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Ding Dongs in the bakers Union
by David Farside
Nov 19, 2012 | 3821 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hostess bakery decided to close its doors last week rather than bend to the demands of organized union bakers. It will file bankruptcy, putting 18,500 workers on the unemployment line, including over 5,000 teamster drivers. Combined with union demands and the governments insistence on healthier, less fattening snacks, sales have decreased while labor costs are rising. Hostess brands such as: Wonder Bread, Ding Dong and Twinkies may be gone forever.

The iconic brands were consumed by junk food gourmets for over 80 years and almost made it into our millennium time capsule during President Clinton’s administration. In 1999, Clinton signed off on including Twinkies as a part of our American culture. However, the inside story is that after the Twinkies were packed away, his advisers were concerned mice would somehow find their way to the tasty treat. They removed the package of tasty American memorabilia and ate them. The truth will be known in 2100.

In 1979, during the murder trial of Dan White, the “Twinkie defense” was used by his defense lawyers. White was obsessed with junk food. His defense claimed that junk food and Twinkies altered White’s state of mind and he should be found not guilty of premeditated first-degree murder.

White, a former police officer, assassinated San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk In November of 1978. Martin Blinder and George Solomon both psychiatrists for the defense argued that White, a fitness fanatic, began suffering from mood swings. He became “slovenly” in appearance and started consuming junk food, including Twinkies and high-sugar drinks. They convinced the jury White’s process for rational thought was diminished at the time of the murder because of his poor diet, therefore he was incapable of premeditated murder. The jury was convinced. White was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, which led to the “White Nite Riots” in the streets of San Francisco.

 The psychiatrist made a good point. It requires 37 different ingredients to make a Twinkie including chemicals used in embalming fluid. One website focusing on nutrition,, wrote “A lot of the additives here (in Twinkies) are various chemicals in powder form, something to picture in your mind the next time you bite into a chemistry lab experiment turned ‘food.’”

Most of my life I have been fortunate enough to work in a union shop. But sometimes we expect too much from employers. In the case of Hostess, the teamsters drivers agreed to work without a new contract until sales increased and they had a better bargaining position but, they would not cross the picket lines of the bakers. Union solidarity cost both union and non-union workers their jobs. And that is not fair to the company or employees.

When unions act as bargaining agents for members, common sense and the protection of jobs should be their top priority. Seniority, work safety, equal payments for men and women who work at the same job and job discrimination shouldn’t have to be negotiated; it should be mandated. However, the ding dong bakers union should have followed the concerns of the teamsters and worked on an extended contract instead of demanding a raise and forming a picket line that put 18,000 fellow employees out of work.

David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist.
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