Hostess Brands, the maker of sweet snacks like Twinkies that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week, will ask a bankruptcy judge today to approve a plan that will allow it to pay $1.75 million in bonuses to 19 of its executives. Hostess’ decision to file for bankruptcy came amid disputes with its union workers, who threatened a strike that Hostess said imperiled the company’s finances. The unions are now protesting Hostess’ request for the bonuses, though they are unlikely to prevail, CNN Money reports:
Hostess Brands will ask a bankruptcy judge on Monday for approval to shut down the company and pay $1.75 million in executive bonuses.
Unions representing workers at the maker of Twinkies, Wonder Bread and Drake’s snacks are arguing against the bonuses. [...]
Under the plan, bonuses ranging from $7,400 to $130,500 will be paid to 19 executives. The company argues the bonuses are below market rates for such payments.
Even as it blamed unions for the bankruptcy and the 18,500 job losses that will ensue, Hostess already gave its executives pay raises earlier this year. The salary of the company’s chief executive tripled from $750,000 to roughly $2.5 million, and at least nine other executives received pay raises ranging from $90,000 to $400,000. Those raises came just months after Hostess originally filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.
Hostess is hardly the only company that has compensated its executives during bankruptcy or times of financial instability. Failed financial firm MF Global gave CEO Jon Corzine an $8 million pay package after it filed for bankruptcy, and Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit received a $6.7 million pay package when he resigned, despite Citi’s 88 percent profit loss during his final quarter. And Hostess isn’t alone in giving executives massive raises while asking for concessions from union workers either: construction giant Caterpillar rewarded its CEO with a 60 percent pay raise, paying him $17 million, even as it forced a pay and pension freeze on its union workforce.
Hostess may avoid bankruptcy after all.