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Dolly Madison workers strike in Emporia

November 13, 2012|By Robert Marin | KWCH 12 Eyewitness News

(EMPORIA, Kan.) — The people who make your bread and snacks say they will not bake until their message is heard.

Over the weekend, workers in the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, or BCTGM, went on strike at Hostess-owned plants in several states. The strike includes workers at the Dolly Madison plant in Emporia.

Hostess has been trying to come out of bankruptcy. Union employees in Emporia say in August of last year the company stopped giving them their pension earning. They say it now wants to cut wages by eight percent.

"You put in the time, you put in the years, I mean, we all have dedicated our lives to the company and they just don't appreciate it," said one striking worker.

Steven Blakey says he he was looking forward to retiring from the company. He says what's going on now hurts not just him, but his family as well.

"I spent 30 years of my life, missed a lot of time with my family, now it's time for me to enjoy that time and I have to keep working, I'm missing out on a lot." said Blakey.

In a statement on Friday, Hostess Brands, Inc., said "a widespread strike will cause Hostess Brands to liquidate if we are unable to produce or deliver products. If that's the case, the company will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,300-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders".

The company says it knows times are tough, but "it would make more sense for unhappy employees to simply leave the company voluntarily than to strike and cause the company to close down, forcing everyone to lose their jobs".

The Dolly Madison plant in Emporia is one of the city's largest employers.

Tuesday, Hostess said it will permanently close bakeries in Seattle, St. Louis and Cincinnati. Those three plants employ 627 people combined. The company says the strike is forcing it to take action because those plants cannot produce or deliver products.

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*Our news partners at Kansas First News/KTKA-TV in Topeka contributed to this report.

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