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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -
Hostess Brands, Inc. is going out of business, and the decision to shut down is affecting dozens of workers employed at the Merita bakery in downtown Birmingham.
Hostess is the parent company of the Merita bakery located near Railroad Park. Employees found out this morning that the plant is shutting down and today is their last day. The closure will cost 90 Birmingham employees their jobs.
Merita Bread employs 135 people in Alabama, including the 90 workers at the Birmingham plant. Employees who worked the morning shift in Birmingham arrived around 6:45 a.m. and their manager told them the news in person.
"It's a sham. I've been here 14 years and we
ratified the contract. We've done everything the company asked of us. We're now
out of a job," Merita employee Henry Dini said.
Several employees who were laid off today say they are worried about being able to provide for their families and health insurance. Some say they'll file for unemployment. Others are considering early retirement. Merita will reportedly continue to provide health insurance coverage up to 90 days.
Employee Sam Ashford says he has mixed feelings about the closure.
"I've gone through this before. I was out two and a half years when
McWane Pipe closed down. It didn't surprise me with this company based on all
the information we've been hearing the last two weeks," Ashford said.
"We deeply regret the necessity of today's decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike. Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders," CEO Gregory Rayburn said on the Hostess website.
Three Hostess plants closed permanently on Nov. 12. The company informed workers it would be forced to shut down operations if workers did not return to work by 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15. Company officials determined Thursday night that not enough employees had returned to restore normal operations.
The shut down means closing 33 bakeries, 570 bakery outlets stores, 565 distribution centers and 5,500 delivery routes, according to the company's website.
Hostess also plans to sell their iconic brands, including Twinkies, Wonder Bread, Ding Dongs and Ho Ho's.