NORTHWOOD, Ohio - Toledo-area Hostess employees say news that their company is going out of business could not have come at a worse time of year.
"It'll be a very hard holiday," said Mark Popovich, a longtime Hostess employee at the Northwood, Ohio factory and local union representative of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union.
Hostess Brands announced Thursday that it would shut down after a week-long nationwide strike. They said the strike forced them to stop production of its Twinkies, Ding Dongs and other snacks.
"We're just going to stick together for as long as we can," said Terry Urban, who works in the shipping department at the Northwood factory.
Urban, Popovich and other employees have been striking outside the Toledo-area facility around the clock for a week.
"We work odd hours and then we come in here and sacrifice days with our family, and we don't get two days off in a row," said Urban, a seven-year Hostess employee.
The Northwood employees said they will continue to strike until they're officially notified by Hostess of its closure early next week.
"It's a little sickening," said Popovich, who's worked for Hostess for the past 23 years and added that he'll start looking for a job Monday.
Hostess said the closing would mean a loss of 18,500 jobs as the company shuts 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers nationwide and 570 outlet stores.
"They're going to be well missed," said Sharon Bohner, who's shopped at the Northwood Hostess outlet store for more than a decade.
Bohner said she visits the store twice a week and now is stocking up on her favorite Hostess treat: snack cakes.
"I can walk in with about one item on my mind and leave with about 30 items," added Bohner.
Hostess says it expects the company to be bought by another brand and Northwood workers are hopeful that they may be working together again under different ownership.
"Besides our family at home, this is the other family that we have," said Urban.