8 Hostess workers out of jobs in Poplar Bluff

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- While Twinkies may yet survive, troubles plaguing Hostess Brands already have led to an outlet store in Poplar Bluff being shuttered and its employees being sent packing.

The move by Hostess to close its locations left eight people without jobs and organizations like the Twin Rivers School District searching for a new distributor after losing its sole source of bread products without notice.

A few sandwich cookies, wafers and fruitcakes were all that remained as outlet store employees began tearing down shelves.

The more iconic products began flying off the shelves around noon Friday.

Hostess entered bankruptcy court last week, citing long-standing financial problems hampered by a strike of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union.

Local Hostess employees found out last Friday, when they were told to clear out their personal belongings.

A judge ordered private mediation Monday, the same day route salesman Jamie Lee planned to visit the unemployment office.

Lee has worked for Hostess for nearly two decades and finds himself searching for work, yet thankful for the money he and his wife, Erma, have been able to put aside for a rainy day.

"I was on vacation last week and my boss called me and said come in today and get your personal stuff," Lee explained. "I've been worried about it for over a year. I just don't know what kind of job opportunities are out there for a 58-year-old man."

Lee said five route salesmen, two store employees and a part-time staff member worked for the local branch.

He delivered to 15 stops in Poplar Bluff each week.

Valorie McMeans, Twin Rivers food service director, rushed to the store Monday morning to buy about 90 packages of hamburger buns for the district's lunches. She also had to replace the shipment that should have been received the same day from Hostess. The district is scrambling to find someone who can provide more than 260 loaves a week for its approximately 1,000 students.

"I'm sure several businesses and schools are in the same place," McMeans said. "They were our sole vendor. ... They weren't able to give us any notice."

Southern Reynolds School District in Ellington, Mo., also has to look for a new bread vendor for its 600 students, but staff said they had enough product on hand to make it through the Thanksgiving holiday.

The company's most popular brands are expected to be picked up quickly by other companies if the mediation effort fails.

Pertinent address:

Poplar Bluff, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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