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Buffett’s NetJets Spars With Teamsters Union

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NetJets, Inc., owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B), has made threats to fire workers over the International Brotherhood of Teamsters publication of the names of rich customers who stand to benefit from NetJet’s attacks on the wages, benefits and working conditions of middle-class employees. The fractional ownership jet operator is fully owned by Warren Buffett’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway and offers jets business and leisure travel to the wealthy in 170 countries.

Teamsters Union and NetJets

Of note, the Teamsters Union represents around 600 NetJets employees who work in a variety of positions including flight attendants, aircraft mechanics, maintenance controllers, aircraft cleaners, aircraft fuelers, stock clerks and flight dispatchers. All 600 Teamsters members are currently involved in labor contract negotiations. What is particularly problematic in this case is that despite profitability and rising revenues, NetJets is greedily demanding major compensation, benefits and job security concessions in the ongoing negotiations.

A Teamsters Union press release notes that a NetJets website states a “core negotiation requirement” is “to pass as much of the savings [from employee concessions] as practicable to owners and potential owners…” The firm consistently refers to its customers as “owners.”

Statements from Teamsters officials

“NetJets’ threat to terminate middle class workers is just the latest example of this out-of-control, multi-national corporation trying to coerce and intimidate its workforce into subsidizing the global super-rich,” said Paul Suffoletto, President of Teamsters Local 284. “The employees we represent will not give up one penny so a Wall Street banker or CEO can take a cheaper vacation on a private Gulfstream jet.”

“We think the public will be very interested in what is happening at NetJets when we start to attach names and faces to some of the customers that stand to receive a subsidy for luxury travel at the expense of middle class Americans,” Capt. David Bourne, Director of the Teamsters Airline Division in an Oct. 27, 2014 noted press release.

“NetJets’ decision to threaten our hard-working members is a disgrace,” Bourne continued. “We are going to defend these middle class workers, no matter what it takes and we aren’t backing down from our decision to publicly identify the wealthy customers who stand to benefit from this attack.”

In a statement emailed to ValueWalk, of Chris Herbert Global Manager, Public Relations, NetJets stated:

This release is another example of the various tactics from the traditional union playbook that NJASAP is using to try and generate leverage in negotiations. Notwithstanding the union’s rhetoric, NetJets has the utmost respect for the professionalism of its pilots but we believe progress in collective bargaining can be made only at the bargaining table. NetJets has been and continues to be committed to good faith bargaining with its pilot union, and we share our team members’ frustration with the lack of progress that has resulted from the union’s failure to negotiate in a responsible and meaningful way.

NetJets advised reader looking for additional information about negotiations between NetJets and its pilots,to visit  www.teamnetjets.com.

Paul Suffoletto, President of Teamsters Local 284 did not respond to requests for comment from us.

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