Hostess is no more. Mediations failed. Bankruptcy declared. It’s over. And though a hefty portion of the nation is mourning the loss of Twinkies, we want to believe that even more people are concerned about the thousands of laid-off employees, including those in our town.
Anyone with working nostrils and Emporia residency knows that Emporia housed a Dolly Madison plant. Dolly Madison is a subsidiary of Hostess and, like its parent company, has gone the way of Tyson four years prior, leaving hundreds of jobs wafting in the wind.
Emporia bears a neutral smell for the first time in decades, but something certainly does stink about the entire situation. It’s deplorable that citizens would publically lambast union attempts to keep viable pensions. It represents a socially and politically constructed distance within our own community. That anyone outside of managerial positions could side with Hostess’s leadership is nothing less than a betrayal of the middle class by the middle class.
Their demands weren’t unreasonable; just don’t cut anything. They weren’t looking for raises, which, coincidentally, were dished out like hot Ding-Dongs to executives before their cut-and-run. They weren’t asking for a government bailout, which, perhaps they should have been historically entitled to but were denied because bailouts are, by nature, discriminatory.
All they wanted was consistency. Some have claimed that union demands were the cause of the bankruptcy. Perhaps they should have just “toughed it out” for their company out of loyalty and sacrificed their already uncertain future so that the hand that fed them could continue to mismanage the brand. Yes, it’s quite clear that it’s the workers’ fault.
So many people around town speak about this bankruptcy with half smiles, remembering the sweetness of their favorite snack cakes as if they materialized without labor and sacrifice. They mourn a food and not a job. They invest in their consumption and not in their community.
It’s this type of attitude – a disassociation from the pains of labor – that we must avoid in our studies and professional lives. We are students living in a town that has been rocked by financial hardship in recent years. Emporia is a blip on the map for many of us.
But these are not merely problems of Emporia. These are nation-wide systemic hurdles that we all have to overcome. It starts by abandoning the product and embracing the person.