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Hostess shutdown costs three Riverton workers their jobs

Hostess shutdown costs three Riverton workers their jobs; stores sold out

Nov 25, 2012 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Distribution centers in Casper and Gillette also are closed.

The Hostess Brands bankruptcy brings more to Fremont County than empty store shelves. The company's Riverton distribution center shut down on Nov. 16, and its three employees are out of work.

An employee who asked to remain anonymous confirmed that the Riverton location closed for good at 12:30 p.m. when the last delivery route was finished. The employee was a delivery driver for Hostess.

He said he did not know much about the closing ahead of time.

"We found out by our customers who had seen it on the 'Today' show that morning," he said.

His boss in Casper called the driver at about 9:05 a.m. that day to tell him the distribution center was closing and that he was out of a job.

The driver said he could have left his truck on the street and walked away then. He said he did not want to do that, partly because he was paid commission.

"I still had to finish what I was doing," the driver said.

He has not heard much from the company since then, either.

"All I heard is just what they told me on the news," he said.

The company filed for bankruptcy a second time in January. Hostess workers organized with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers union went on strike Nov. 9.

The company and the Bakers union failed to reach an agreement, and the company announced Nov. 16 that it was shutting down.

Hostess and the union held last-minute negotiations but again could not come to terms. Hostess gave final word Nov. 21 that it is closing for good.

Nationwide, the company em-ployed 18,500 people and had 565 distribution centers. Hostess intends to keep 3,200 employees on to help it wind down operations over the next year.

Hostess officials did not return requests for comment by press time. There are no Hostess bakeries in Wyoming. Montana and Colorado each had one.

The driver in Riverton said he was not a union employee.

"I had no say-so," he said.

Despite losing his job with little notice, he said he is not bitter.

"It's kind of rough not having a job at the moment," he said but later added, "When it's out of your control, it's out of your control."

The Riverton distribution center received and delivered four semi-truck loads of Hostess products every week.

Three delivery drivers worked out of the Riverton location.

They distributed Hostess, Nature's Pride, Wonder and Sweetheart brand baked goods to stores in Riverton, Dubois, Lander and the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Hostess distribution centers in Casper and Gillette also are closed.

Locals rushed to buy Hostess goods once the news broke earlier this month.

Riverton Smith's Food & Drug store manager James Kraft said his store sold out of Hostess products Nov. 14.

"Right after the announcement they cleaned us out," he said.

Kraft does not expect Hostess's closing to have a large effect on his business. He said Sara Lee already has stepped in to provide replacement products.

Hostess treats such as Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Sno Balls and Ho Hos may one day return to stores. The company is seeking buyers for its brands who would presumably resume production of popular products.

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