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Hostess tells striking workers: back to work or company shuts down

Members bakery confectionery tobacco gramillers uni(BCTGM Local 149) gather strike outside Hostess bakery Monroe Monday Nov. 12 2012 Memphis Tenn.

Members of the bakery, confectionery, tobacco, and grain millers union (BCTGM Local 149) gather to strike outside the Hostess bakery on Monroe Monday Nov. 12, 2012, in Memphis, Tenn. The union, which has been on strike since Friday, is trying to prevent new wage and benefit cuts which the company is making nation wide. (AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, Jim Weber)

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Updated: December 19, 2012 12:10PM

Bankrupt Hostess Brands said Wednesday if striking workers don’t return to the job by Thursday, it will file a motion Friday to liquidate the entire company, resulting in the loss of roughly 18,000 jobs.

“We simply do not have the financial resources to survive an ongoing national strike,” Hostess Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gregory Rayburn said in a statement.

Hostess has bakeries in Schiller Park, Hodgkins and Peoria, but Peoria’s is the only Illinois facility on strike. The Irving, Texas-based company operates 36 bakeries nationwide.

Representatives of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Thousands of its members went on strike at Hostess Nov. 9 to protest cuts to wages and benefits under a new contract offer, which the union rejected in September. Union officials have said the maker of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread 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.

Earlier this week, Hostess said the strike has prevented it from producing and delivering products, and that it was closing bakeries in Seattle, St. Louis and Cincinnati. Those facilities employ 627 workers.

But the union said according to the company’s 1113 filing with the bankruptcy court earlier this year and its last, best, final offer to its members, Hostess was planning to close at least nine bakeries as part of its reorganization plan, although the company refused to disclose which bakeries it intended to close.

Contributing: AP

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