United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) is seeking the help of billionaire investor Warren Buffett to resolve their latest contract dispute with MidAmerican Energy Company (OTCMKTS:MDPWK), a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B).
According to union officials, MidAmerican Energy Company (OTCMKTS:MDPWK) demands cuts to the healthcare benefits for 300 coal miners, and they are trying to get the attention of Buffett to interfere with the situation.
United Mine Workers of America Dispute With MidAmerican Energy Company
In January, the union sent a letter to Buffett regarding their problem. They wrote that the executives of Mid American Energy Company (OTCMKTS:MDPWK) are pushing them to strike. They also invited Buffett to tour the mine.
Buffett declined the invitation and attached an inside cover of the annual report of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) which contains the description of his job as CEO and chairman of the conglomerate in his response letter. Buffett wrote, “It explains how decentralized the operations at Berkshire are. It wouldn’t work any other way; 24 people in Omaha can’t try to make decisions for more than 70 companies with 275,000 employees.”
The union plans to distribute leaflets during the upcoming annual shareholders meeting of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) in Omaha. The leaflet reads, “Berkshire Hathaway has a well-deserved reputation for fair dealing. But the actions of management at its subsidiary, MidAmerican Energy, threaten that reputation.” The union also intends to publish full-page advertisements in Omaha newspapers regarding their dispute with MidAmerican Energy Company (OTCMKTS:MDPWK).
Maria O’Mara, spokesperson for Energy West Mining Co., a unit of MidAmerican Energy which operates the Deer Creek mine in Utah, commented that the company “is committed to a resolution that is fair to both employees and customers, protects its commitment to safety and keeps costs competitive. The union and the company are both at the bargaining table. There is no impasse.”
However, O’Mara declined to provide details regarding the company’s contract with United Mine Workers of America. She also declined to comment on the statements of the officials of the union that three miners were fired and an armed guard was assigned to the mine. She explained that the company has a policy restricting her to comment on details about personnel and security issues.
Union officials claim that MidAmerican Energy Company (OTCMKTS:MDPWK) wants the miners to pay healthcare premiums for individual and family coverage, and it is also asking to reduce the number of miners on the safety committee from 19 to 3.