OGDEN — The deadline for striking Hostess employees to return to work has passed, and the company has not said if it will move to liquidate its business.

The company warned employees if they didn't end the strike by 5 p.m. EST Thursday, it would move to shut down the entire company and sell off everything, putting thousands of jobs at risk, including hundreds in Ogden.

A spokesman for Hostess, Lance Ignon, said the company would likely make an announcement Friday after assessing plant operations Thursday evening.

The nearly 600 employees at the Hostess factory on 26th Street in Ogden are not on strike but have been told not to speak to the media. Several of them, however, did say that they are worried about the deadline and what's going to happen if employees in other states don't go back to work.

"I feel bad for them, you know, with whatever they're going through, but you obviously need a job. I do," said Francis Santos, who crossed the picket line. "I have six children. I need employment."

Hostess officials said they planned to reorganize after seeking Chapter 11 protection in January for the second time in three years. 

Thousands of members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union went on strike Nov. 9 to protest cuts to wages and benefits under a contract offer, which the union rejected in September. Union officials say the company stopped contributing to workers' pensions last year.

On Monday, the company said the strike prevented it from producing and delivering products, and it closed bakeries in Seattle, St. Louis and Cincinnati, and laid off more than 600 workers.

The company says if employees don't go back to work, on Friday it will seek bankruptcy-court permission to launch a liquidation of the entire business.

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"It's been a long time since we've had to find a job," said St. Louis plant employee Jerold Russell. "You thought this was a job with security."

If Hostess shuts down and sells off its eight brands and 36 factories, it could result in the loss of nearly 18,000 jobs nationwide. Liquidation would affect more than just the iconic snacks such as Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Zingers. Hostess has eight brands including Wonder Bread, Natures Pride, Home Pride and Dolly. 

In Ogden, depending on if and when it gets sold, it could potentially put hundreds of people out of work just before the holidays.

Company officials say if they go to court Friday and the liquidation motion is granted, factories could start shutting down as soon as Nov. 20.