Teamsters ask court to deny I.B.C. extension request

by Eric Schroeder
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KANSAS CITY — The International Brotherhood of Teamsters this week asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Kansas City to deny Interstate Bakeries Corp.’s request for more time to develop its reorganization plan.

In a Sept. 26 filing with the Bankruptcy Court, the Teamsters, which represent about 10,000 of I.B.C.’s 25,000 employees, said the maker of Twinkies and Wonder Bread has had more than enough time over the past three years to develop a reorganization plan.

"Like a beached whale, these large debtors are going nowhere," the Teamsters said in their filing.

Interstate Bakeries, which has until Oct. 5 to explain how the company plans to exit bankruptcy, earlier this month asked the Bankruptcy Court to extend the deadline to Jan. 15, saying it was talking with lenders interested in providing post-bankruptcy funding but those discussions hinged on reaching agreement with its two top unions by Sept. 30.

If those agreements aren’t possible, the company said it needed 30 extra days to work out a new plan for the company, which could include liquidation.

The Teamsters said the court should hold I.B.C. to the current Oct. 5 deadline and allow others, including lenders and unsecured creditors, to introduce reorganization plans of their own.

Teamsters officials said that One Equity Partners, a firm affiliated with J.P. Morgan, and Yucaipa Companies, an investment company led by Los Angeles-based billionaire Ron Burkle, are interested in investing in the company. But I.B.C. hasn’t seriously considered either company because they will not sign agreements prohibiting them from talking with the unions, which also includes the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco and Grain Millers Union.

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