Twinkies to return to Northeast stores as strike ends |

Twinkies to return to Northeast stores as strike ends

BIDDEFORD, Maine (AP) – An eight-day strike by truck drivers against Interstate Bakeries Corp. that cut off the flow of Twinkies and Wonder Bread across the Northeast ended Thursday.

The company and the Teamsters union agreed to additional talks next week on an arbitration dispute, and the Teamsters agreed to go back to work as a gesture of good will, said Dennis Raymond, chairman of the Teamsters’ New England Bakery Drivers Council.

”Right now, it sounds like everyone is going to get their Twinkies,” said Robert Piccone, president of Teamsters Local 340.

About 1,400 Teamsters left their jobs on March 15, accusing Kansas City, Mo.-based Interstate of refusing to abide by arbitration rulings. The company says the process was unfair; the union says the company refused to participate.

Because of the strike, the company’s Biddeford plant that makes J.J. Nissen, Wonder Bread, Hostess and Drake’s products was shut down, putting 400 bakers out of work. Teamsters later set up pickets elsewhere, shutting down plants in New York City, Philadelphia, Wayne, N.J., and Buffalo, N.Y.

”We decided to pull the pickets down and to have a cooling off period and put people back to work,” Raymond said.

On the picket line in Biddeford, where the drivers had put up a banner that said ”Fort Twinkie” at their tarp-covered shelter, they let out a cheer when they heard the news Thursday evening.

One of the main sticking points that led to the strike was the company’s requirement that drivers deliver more than one brand of Interstate products at a time. The Teamsters said the practice violates work rules designed to protect drivers who get paid different amounts for each brand.

”We’re pleased that the pickets have gone down,” said Mark Dirkes, a company spokesman. ”We’d much rather be working than not.”