AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka seems to think that just because labor paid millions for its political messaging in 2012 that the campaign slogans can be reused for anything. In a statement on the Hostess liquidation, Trumka said:
What’s happening with Hostess Brands is a microcosm of what’s wrong with America, as Bain-style Wall Street vultures make themselves rich by making America poor. Crony capitalism and consistently poor management drove Hostess into the ground, but its workers are paying the price. These workers, who consistently make great products Americans love and have offered multiple concessions, want their company to succeed. They have bravely taken a stand against the corporate race-to-the-bottom. And now they and their communities are suffering the tragedy of a needless layoff. This is wrong. It has to stop. It’s wrecking America.
This isn’t an argument: it’s a recycled talking point. Blaming the free market for every problem that befalls labor is how unions got into this mess (and will never get out of it). Hostess faced a difficult reality: restructure or cease to exist. Labor costs are a major part of the equation, and because the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) represents the company’s second-largest group of employees, Hostess needs its cooperation. The largest union, the Teamsters, obliged, and even asked the BCTGM to back down from the destructive strike. But BCGTM stayed on the picket lines through yesterday’s deadline, and Hostess announced this morning that it had to liquidate the company.
What the BCTGM did might be “brave” as Trumka claims, but it isn’t smart. And if you don’t think so, consider labor’s response: trashing an unrelated venture capital firm that used to be run by a guy who just lost the presidential election.
But don’t blame Trumka for having nothing constructive to say: there is no good argument for the bakers union strike.