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Photos: Hostess Bankruptcy Ripples in Elysian Valley

A still undetermined number of workers at the Hostess location at 2330 Ripple St. in Silver Lake's Frogtown could lose their jobs when the company files for bankruptcy.

An earlier version of this story put the total number of Los Angeles Hostess employees at 357.

 

Picketers were spotted throughout the week outside the Hostess Bakery facility  located at 2330 Ripple St. in Silver Lake's Frogtown.

According to one employee, the bakery specialized in Ho-Hos, and donuts for the region, as well as serving as a staging area for other Hostess products shipped in from the Central Valley.

Then, on Friday, came the news that all Hostess operations would shut down, including the Ripple Street bakery, due to the firm's bankruptcy, announced Friday morning.

About 18,500 workers could lose their jobs nationwide and, according to various estimates, at least a hundred are employed in Frogtown near the Los Angeles River.

Hostess has two bakeries, one in Los Angeles at 6007 St. Andrews Pl. and another at  the Ripple Street location, plus some outlet stores including one on San Fernando Road.

That makes estimates of how many local employees will be affected by the impending closure hard to pin down.

But Anita Murray, a Hostess spokesperson, told Patch late Friday that Hostess has 495 employees in Los Angeles, including those who work at Ripple Street.

Hostess has blamed its closing on a strike by members of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which shut down operations for days.

Early this week, union members from Oakland and Seattle set up the picket line outside the Ripple Street depot, which they say local union members have been honoring.

On Friday, some sat at a tent in Frogtown, hailing passing vehicles, which returned a steady stream of honks in solidarity.

Several of the picketers, who were advised by organizers not to give their names, said they did not know what would happen to their jobs. Several said they would remain at the picket line until further notice.

They added  they were angry that that the company was blaming its closure on the union.

Some said they lived nearby, though not in Echo Park or Silver Lake.

Meantime, non-union employees, including one worker at the Ripple Street plant who asked not to be identified, said they resent that less than 20 percent of the workforce can put their "good" and, often, long-held jobs at risk.

Adam Schiff, who represents the Congressional district that will include Elysian Valley starting Jan. 1, 2013, too lamented "the loss of good jobs" that the closure will mean, as well as the loss of "a local institution."

According to a letter on its Web Site, Hostess had warned on Nov. 14 that it would have to close down if workers did not return to work.

A day later, the company determined that an "insufficient number of employees had returned to work to enable the restoration of normal operations" and filed for bankruptcy.

The announcement created a run on Twinkies and Ho-Hos as shoppers grabbed up what they thought would be the last of the iconic treats.

According to one source, the baked goods at Ripple St. are still waiting to be distributed, including, one would presume, a good supply of Ho-Hos.

Hostess CEO Gregory Rayburn told CNBC Friday the company would try to sell the brand names to keep them alive. He also said it was "too late" to avoid a Hostess closure.

Hostess is directing employees to its website at www.hostessbrands.info for additional information.

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Jones November 16, 2012 at 11:17 PM
this is the second time that Hostess has filed for bankruptcy this yr. Hostess tripled the CEO's salary after declaring bankruptcy and gave huge raises to other executives as well. why don't you blame the exec's who probably never baked a day in their priviledged lives. Hostess has been plundered. i wonder what's going to happen to the ee pensions..
EP Hillbilly November 17, 2012 at 04:17 AM
The pension will be used to pay off debt, per the court. The first bankruptcy in 2005 had employees take a appx 30% cut in salary. The current offer cut benifits and salary close to 25%. Many found it was more of a benifit to get laid off and collect unemployment benifits for 18 months than work for the low wages. They could continue to make thier payments as the UE pays more than the cut wages. They lost faith in the management as the company went into a nose dive. The Teamsters barely ratified their contract with votes divided down age lines. The drivers make more that bakers and earn commision on their routes. They could survive a cut.
nonoise November 17, 2012 at 04:33 PM
This place is not in Silverlake. It is in Elysian Valley. It would be better to take a pay cut than have no job at all. These workers are going to find it very hard to get a job in today's job market. The unemployment rate is sky high. And, yet people still voted for President Obama even though there are no jobs. A salary cut is better than no job at all.
Jennifer Solis November 18, 2012 at 07:17 AM
Before we start pointing fingers of blame at the union or management, it would be beneficial to study the history of Hostess Brands for the past ten years. There are strong similarities between the Crash of 2008 and the structural financing of Hostess, especially since its previous bankruptcy of 2004, only on a smaller scale. Venture capitalism, often called hedge funds, will offer an appealing solution to a company’s financial problems, but before long, a group of faux management has taken control, drained the company of every dime of assets and finally forced its work force to choose between sub-industry standard wages or closure. Fortunately, the actual iconic brands of the company will probably not disappear, but be bought up and continued, hopefully, by another national bakery. Jennifer Solis
Anthea Raymond November 19, 2012 at 10:00 PM
@Jennifer-Yes, that's what employees told me that they hoped would happen when I stopped by there yesterday. Here's what I wrote based on that: http://patch.com/A-zDpY

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