steffanie rivers

Steffanie Rivers

*If I could package common sense and convince people that it was going out of business maybe I could get them to value it, and possibly stand in line to pay for it. People don’t value what’s free. Common sense is no different.

Take, for example, the nationwide panic that set in when the Hostess Company announced plans to file for bankruptcy and close all it’s bakeries across the country: No more Twinkies, Zingers, Ding Dongs, Ho Ho’s, you get the picture. It has caused countless sugar fiends to risk diabetic comas just to purchase the last batch of their favorite treats.  If Hostess would have stayed in business another 80 years the company could not have created more brand loyalty than it did by announcing plans to close its doors. That’s good for the company, but what about your wallet and your waistline? I admit Zingers are tasty, but I won’t stand in line to get them. The last time I checked statistics, Americans are more obese than they’ve ever been which partly is to blame for the rising cost of health care. Most of us won’t commit to regular exercise, but standing in line to buy the last box of Twinkies? Not a problem.

The HBO documentary “Weight of the Nation” chronicles the impact that obesity has caused in the lives of children and adults over the past 25 years. Five of the ten leading causes of death in America could be eradicated if regular exercise and healthy eating became a lifestyle choice not just as a New Year resolution, but everyday of the year. And childhood obesity rates are so high medical experts fear today’s generation of children could be the first to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.

Then there’s the other part of this common sense equation. How does a labor union designed to protect wages and retirement plans walk away from the negotiation table and allow thousands of people to lose their jobs? Hostess employees were represented by a number of unions, each wanting more money and better pension plans for the group they represented. Hostess had planned to cut employee wages by eight percent in 2013 due to rising operational costs and lower profits. Apparently some people are cutting back on snack foods. And most employees had agreed to the pay cut. I guess they figured a paying job is better than no job. If the salary wasn’t enough transitioning into another position with more pay is an option.

But union representatives rejected the proposal and threatened to stage a strike. Hostess called their bluff and shut the operation down: 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers and 570 stores will close leaving 18,500 workers jobless. Without jobs nobody can pay their union dues. Hostess gets to file bankruptcy. The workers and the union get nothing. Their pensions probably are in jeopardy too. Whose fault is that? Somewhere along the way common sense was left out of negotiations. But somebody is bound to blame it on President Obama.

Steffanie is a freelance writer living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Send questions, comments and speaking requests to [email protected]. To view the video version of her column go to Youtube.com/steffanierivers