Updated: Thursday, 15 Nov 2012, 12:35 PM EST
Published : Thursday, 15 Nov 2012, 9:51 AM EST
(WTNH) -- The makers of snack favorites like Twinkies and Ding Dongs are making job cuts. Hostess Brands Inc. has notified the state that layoffs are possible and they could come by the middle of next month.
"It's serious. It's real," Kevin O'Toole, a Teamster leader in Stratford, said.
Hostess is telling its workers, it's give up or belly-up. If striking employees don't return to the job, the company will have to liquidate at close of business today. O'Toole said this is no half-baked threat.
"It's major cuts. Some people can't afford it, but at least you're making more than you would be getting on unemployment, and unemployment runs out," O'Toole said.
He said about eight percent of wages, 17 percent on health and welfare. Most of the roughly-200 Hostess workers in Connecticut are teamsters. Kevin O'Toole says the union that represents most of the company's 18,000 employees overall has led its members down a primrose path.
"They were telling people, evidently, 'Don't worry, if you shoot it down they'll come back with another offer'. That ain't going to happen," O'Toole said.
State lawmaker Rob Kane calls it a sign of the times in a nation whose policy toward business has become a recipe for disaster.
"It's getting more and more difficult, with higher burdens, higher regulations, higher energy costs, higher taxes. It just makes it more difficult for businesses to grow and keep jobs in our country," Kane said.
The larger question in such contentious times is, if something as iconic and American as the Hostess Twinkie can disappear, what does it say, if anything, about the American Way as we know it?
"Of course it can be saved. This is the greatest country in the world, but we need to get back to those basic principles of capitalism, of freedoms, of rights, and we're not doing that. We're moving in the total opposite direction," Kane said.
The more immediate question that looks to be answered later today is, has Hostess' shelf life reached its end?
"We'll know by 5 o'clock today if they'll be liquidating. They'll be going to court tomorrow," O'Toole said.