Local Hostess Employees Hit Hard by Layoffs

By Nicole Gonzales and Monica Garske
|  Thursday, Nov 22, 2012  |  Updated 7:43 PM PDT
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NBC 7 reporter Nicole Gonzales talked to a few local Hostess workers who are now spending the holiday season without a job.

NBC 7 reporter Nicole Gonzales talked to a few local Hostess workers who are now spending the holiday season without a job.

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San Diegans Bid Farewell to Hostess Stores

Despite news that Hostess and the Bakers Union have agreed to mediation, outlets in Chula Vista, El Cajon and Escondido closed their doors at noon Monday.

New Hope for Local Hostess Workers as Mediation Begins

San Diego workers were thrown a lifeline Monday when Hostess and its bakers union agreed to mediation.
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The sudden closure of Hostess has left 18,500 employees without jobs – many of whom work here in San Diego.

Hostess has three bakery outlets in San Diego, in Chula Vista, Escondido and El Cajon.

After Hostess CEO Gregory F. Rayburn announced the closure of the snack cake company Friday, San Diegans bombarded the local bakeries, stocking up on Twinkies, Wonder Bread and Cup Cakes.

The San Diego locations shut down for good Monday, leaving not a single crumb behind. More importantly, many people were left out of work.

One of those Hostess employees is Rick Austin, who drove Hostess sales trucks for more than three decades.

Now, he’s out of a job.

“It hit me like a stab in the heart; 30-and-a-half years on the job. I have a wife, kids, mortgage,” he said.

Austin was due to retire in a few years. However, following Rayburn’s announcement Friday, those plans came to a sudden, screeching halt.

“I looked on the internet, found out Hostess is over with,” said Austin.

And, just like that, with no warning or notification, Austin was out of work.

“That’s been really hard, just the not knowing and the company has provided no insight,” he added.

On Thursday, Hostess Brands came one step closer to shutting down when the company and their Bakers Union failed to meet in the middle during mediation.

Hostess truck drivers, however, represented by Teamsters, negotiated successfully.

But it was all for naught.

“There’s a commitment from the local union to do everything in our power to try and help every one of these impacted workers,” Todd Mendez of Teamsters Local told NBC 7.

Teamsters Local 683 will meet with its 50 or so members next week to go over pension, health and unemployment.

As for Austin, he's trying to figure out how to survive, let alone pay for his daughter's wedding next year.

“You have to be thankful for what you have. I have my family. I'm still healthy. I'm still able. If somebody called tomorrow and said 'I have a job for you,' I'd take that job,” he said.

Currently, there’s a firm rumored to want to purchase Hostess and maintain its workers. However, it’s too early to tell if that will go through.

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