SACRAMENTO, Calif. - About a dozen workers began picketing at a Hostess Brands plant in Sacramento honoring a bakers' union strike at the bankrupt company's plants across the country.
The company also announced on Monday it would permanently shut down bakeries in Seattle, St. Louis and Cincinnati as a result of the nationwide strike. That affects 627 workers at those plants Hostess also warned of a possible liquidation if the strike continues longer, which would put snack treats like the iconic Twinkie on the line.
The picket line in Sacramento formed Sunday, two days after the walkout when Hostess imposed a contract that would immediately cut wages by 8 percent. The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union said the contract would also cut benefits by 27 to 32 percent.
As some Sacramento workers sat off the job, Frances Santos crossed the picket line. She's looking for work and saw a "Now Hiring" sign posted in front of the plant.
"I feel bad for them for whatever they are going through," Santos said. "I have six children. I need employment."
Workers in Sacramento are not on strike but their picket lines are in support of other striking local unions, like those in Billings, Montana and Seattle, Washington. Some are refusing to cross the picket lines.
A Hostess company spokesman said interruption at the Sacramento bakery has been minor.
The strikers didn't stop some shoppers at the bakery outlet, which is attached to the plant.
"I think what they're doing is honorable but it just doesn't make sense in this economy," Shane Sullivan said.
Hostess' Twinkie goes back to the 1930s. Although many kids haven't lost their taste for Twinkies, some moms have. During the 80s and 90s, Hostess lost market share to healthier lunchbox choices than snack cakes and white bread.
The Texas-based company has struggled in recent years with two bankruptcy filings. It warned last week that a widespread strike would cause the company to liquidate if it can't produce or deliver products. The company could be sold off to the highest bidders and lead to layoffs of most of its 18,300-member workforce.
"That I don't understand," Santos said. "With the economy, they could lose their jobs for this and I don't understand why. But they have their reasons."
Hostess employs nearly 300 workers in Sacramento and about 1,850 in California.
News10 reporter Siemny Chhuon contributed to this report.
The Associated Press and News10/KXTV