Merita bread plant in Orlando closes doors

Merita bread plant in Orlando closes doors

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After 40 years as a staple in downtown Orlando, Merita bread closed its plant Friday. Union workers went on strike and refused to return. Finally, the parent company, Hostess, decided to cease operations.

More than 280 people in the Orlando area are out of a job, including Johnny Santiel.

"I don't know what I'm going to do. One day at a time," he said.

Hostess declared bankruptcy, and a judge told them they could cut pay to workers, but the union leaders would not agree and went on strike anyway.  Santiel places the blame on his union.

"They didn't comprehend, because they didn't realize, if the company don't have any money, if we have a chance to give back company money, that they can reinvest. Then, we would have been okay.  But the union leaders, they don't give a [expletive]! They don't care! Now, where are the rest of us going to be? Where are the union leaders going to be? Are they going to feed our families?"

A group of six striking union workers sat outside the Orlando bread plant on Monday. At one point, a vehicle drove into the plant with the worker holding a set of chains and padlocks out the window. He screamed to the union members "Happy now?"

Retirees Blaine Hensley and Lee Davis showed up as well. Davis tells FOX 35 that he and Hensley were often on opposite sides of the bargaining table, but always found a way to work it out.  Now the place both men spent more than 30 years working at is toast.

"It's just a sad day. I think any time two entities get together and have a little game of chicken going on, somebody don't always win."

Of the jobs lost, 190 comes from the bread factory, while another 91 jobs are gone at bread outlets around Orlando.

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