Buffett: Berkshire Hathaway Has No Anti-union Philosophy

Buffett: Berkshire Hathaway Has No Anti-union Philosophy
By Mark Hirschey (Work of Mark Hirschey) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway said his company has no anti-union philosophy during a recent an interview with CNBC.

The billionaire investor said there were hundreds of unions within Berkshire Hathaway over the past 50 years. He noted that the company had three strikes and two of which lasted in less than a week.

Buffett made the comment as NetJets pilots protested during the annual shareholders meeting of Berkshire Hathaway in Omaha. NetJets is a fractional-ownership jet operator, and it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.

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NetJets labor dispute with workers

Last November, Net Jets threatened to terminate the employment of workers in connection with the decision of International Brotherhood Teamsters to publish the names of rich customers, who will gain from the jet operator’s attack on the benefits, wages, working conditions of its middle-class employees.

The Teamsters Union represents approximately 600 NetJets employees. Paul Suffoletto, president of Teamsters Local 284, commented that the jet operator’s threat was “ an example of out-of-control, multinational corporation trying to coerce and intimidate its workforce into subsidizing the global super-rich.”

On the other hand, NetJets emphasized its continued commitment to good faith bargaining with its pilots union, and expressed its frustration with the lack of progress from the union’s failure to negotiate in a responsible and meaningful way.

The management of NetJets wants workers to accept compensation cuts and pay more for their health insurance.

Buffett says NetJet pilots make more money than competitors

During the interview, Buffett noted that NetJet pilots are making $145 thousand a year, and they are receiving as much or higher compensation compared with their peers at competitors.

Buffett added that people from competitors were lining up to become pilots at NetJets. According to him, NetJets have a good business, and the pilots have a good job. According to him, it is natural in labor negotiations that people have different opinions regarding the things they’ll get in the offered contract.

Buffett believes that NetJets & workers will reach a settlement agreement

Buffett explained that the company wants to change the health provisions so that its workers will participate in the costs. He emphasized that the company is willing to pay a large lump sum.

According to him, there will be negotiations between the workers and NetJets. Buffett believes that both parties will eventually reach a settlement agreement. Buffett said the pilots like to fly with NetJets, and the company likes to have them because they are terrific in their job.

He noted that he never saw a NetJets pilot that was not professional over the past 20 years. “I feel very good about the pilots we have, and I think they feel very good about the jobs they have,” said Buffett.

See more from Buffett’s CNBC interview below

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