Divorce Mediation Blog

Post-Thanksgiving Blues: Twinkies’ Mediation Fails

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

We rooted for the mediator, but we lost.

The Hostess vs. baker’s union clash proved too much for the court-appointed mediator, which goes to show that mediation only works to the extent that knowing and determined participants have the will to recognize the overlap in their interests enough to either expand the pie to create more value to share, or to compromise such that each side gets a slice that is “good enough”. In this case of failed mediation, an employer will die and many jobs along with it.

The skilled mediator may help the parties to recognize their interests, and to distinguish them pragmatically from their positions, but he or she cannot create a new pie out of dust and disappointment. Suitors are apparently lined up to purchase the Twinkie product line from the bankrupt estate; but that is cold comfort to the families that depend on Hostess, on both sides of the labor fence.

If the Twinkie itself goes, the mystery cream may be missed but the Hostess jobs will be missed a whole lot more.


Twinkies’ Mediation Reported

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Boston Globe greeted pre-Thanksgiving readers with the news that Twinkies are not yet dead. After Hostess Brands concluded that it could not survive negotiations with it bakers’ union, it asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for permission to convert its reorganization to a liquidation. Panic-buying consumed pre-fiscal cliff America, as Twinkies sales of $4 and $5 a pair were reported from online buying services.

But, the Bankruptcy judge pulled Ding Dongs from the brink. He ordered the ailing Hostess into mediation with the recalcitrant union, on strike since October, over threatened retirement and health insurance cutbacks. It is a time-limited reprieve: 24 hours to mediate. But the loss of Ho Ho’s, 300 reported jobs in Massachusetts alone and presumably the interests of creditors demanded one last effort, with the help of a skilled facilitator. So, the last firewall between a public starved for nostalgia (despite its presidential election decision – or maybe because of it) and its prized junk food is mediation.

Well, maybe not. The Globe also reported that the pending bankruptcy has drawn companies who are circling to pick the Twinkies brand from the bones of the dying Hostess, should she not survive the last-ditch mediation effort. Naturally, we are rooting for the mediator.


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