Imports Helped Kill The Twinkie, Hostess Brands Workers Get Assistance

By— Imports of cheap baked goods helped kill the Twinkie and the Ding Dong. A U.S. Department of Labor investigation has found that increased imports of baked products contributed importantly to Hostess Brands’ sales declines, worker layoffs and ultimately its bankruptcy liquidation.

The DOL says that the approximately 18,000 workers laid off in 48 states from 864 Hostess company locations are eligible to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance.

Hostess Brands Twinkies

Hostess Brands iconic product: Twinkies

Hostess Brands was founded in 1930 as Interstate Bakeries Corp., a wholesale baker and bakery products distributor. Its brands included Hostess, Wonder Bread, Nature’s Pride, Dolly Madison, Butternut Breads and Drake’s.

For decades Kansas City, Mo., was home to Interstate Bakeries and it family of Hostess brands.

In 2004 Interstate Bakeries filed bankruptcy. When it emerged in 2009 the name was changed to Hostess Brands, Inc., and the headquarters moved to Irving, Texas.

Hostess Brands Bankrupt Again

Hostess Brands filed bankruptcy again in January 2012 for what turned out to be the last time.

On Nov. 16, 2012, Hostess Brands asked bankruptcy court for permission to close its business and sell its assets. Five days later the court agreed.

At the time Hostess Brands management blamed the company’s unions for its failure. However, subsequent analysis has shown the company failed to innovate and introduce new products, continued to pay high executive salaries after the 2004 bankruptcy and, the DOL found, couldn’t compete with foreign imports.

The TAA certification was based on a Labor Department investigation to determine whether the Hostess Brands layoffs met the group eligibility criteria set forth by the Trade Act of 1974.

“As President Obama said in his State of the Union address, ‘to grow our middle class, our citizens must have access to the education and training that today’s jobs require,'” said acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris. “Trade Adjustment Assistance enables workers to pursue training in the skills that today’s employers need, contributing not just to a stronger middle class, but to a stronger American economy.”

Hostess Brands workers covered by this TAA certification will be contacted by their respective state workforce agencies with instructions on how to apply for individual benefits and services.

Those who qualify may receive case management and re-employment services, training in new occupational skills and/or trade readjustment allowances that provide income support for workers enrolled in training.

Former Hostess Brands workers may also receive job search and relocation allowances and the Health Coverage Tax Credit.

While TAA is open to eligible workers of all ages, workers 50 years of age and older may elect to receive Re-employment Trade Adjustment Assistance instead.

If a worker obtains new employment at wages less than $50,000 and less than those earned in the trade-impacted employment, the RTAA program will pay 50% of the difference between the old wage and the new wage, up to $10,000 over a two-year period. RTAA participants may also be eligible for retraining and the HCTC.

For more information on TAA and the range of the Department of Labor’s employment and training services, visit

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