They say it’s hard to turn a Twinkie rotten, and what do you know, a few days after Hostess Brands announced it was quitting business because a union wouldn’t accept a drop in compensation from the bankrupt company, both sides — urged on by a judge — will try a late mediation. We hope it succeeds; we’d hate to see 240-plus workers in Ogden lose their jobs, as well as 18,000-plus more across the U.S.
Nevertheless, the Hostess strike, the union’s refusal — so far — to budge, and potential losses of jobs and businesses are likely scenarios that will be repeated. Some unions today are living in an alternate reality, convinced that it’s 1995, or 1985, and so on, instead of 2012, with its current economic challenges. They will butt heads with businesses, as well as municipal governments, that simply cannot maintain pay and benefits that exist in an alternate economic reality.
Employees deserve a fair slice of the proceeds from a business. No sensible individual will ever dispute that. And we share the disapproval of executives who take large salaries when their businesses are hurting. Nevertheless, the share a union negotiates has to be in line with how the business is doing. The bakers’ union that may have ended the iconic Hostess Brands doesn’t care about today’s economic realities. It wants more than is economically feasible, even if everyone loses.
We have seen this alternate reality infecting the public sector unions, as elected officials from both parties have had to battle with public employees’ unions. Chicago, where Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel clashed with teachers’ unions, was a recent example. Other battles have been fought in California, Wisconsin and elsewhere.
As mentioned, we will see more of these battles. Hopefully, more unions will return to reality. That will save jobs that are needed in these tough times.