A company owned by Berkshire Hathaway — Warren Buffett’s firm — is experiencing a steelworkers’ strike. When Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) asked Buffett to intervene, the billionaire entrepreneur declined.
Sanders wrote to Buffett on Tuesday and asked the Berkshire CEO to get involved in talks between United Steelworkers Local 40 and West Virginia-based Special Metals. Precision Castparts, a subsidiary of Buffett’s conglomerate, owns Special Metals.
In a letter dated Tuesday and released by Sanders’ office on Thursday, Buffett told the Vermont independent he would not step into the labor negotiations. He cited Berkshire’s policy of letting its companies “deal individually with their own labor and personnel decisions.”
“I’m passing along your letter to the CEO of Precision Castparts but making no recommendation to him as to any action,” Buffett wrote. “He is responsible for his business.”
Sanders, however, was miffed by Buffett’s response.
“Mr. Buffett is one of the wealthiest guys on the planet,” the lawmaker said on Twitter. “There is no reason that steelworkers at Special Metals, a W.V. company that made $1.5 billion in profits last year, should accept an insulting contract that includes significant pay cuts and major cuts to their health care.”
Indeed, Sanders bases his political brand on crusading against wealthy Americans — despite owning three houses and boasting a net worth in the millions.
Last month, Sanders tweeted: “We must demand that the extremely wealthy pay their fair share. Period.” In response, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk — who is presently the richest man in the world — said, “I keep forgetting that you’re still alive,” adding, “Want me to sell more stock, Bernie? Just say the word.”
Sanders — who leads the Senate Budget Committee — has also been publicly chastising his colleague Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who recently pulled his support from President Biden’s domestic spending agenda. During an interview with CNN anchor Jake Tapper, Sanders argued that his colleague lacks the courage to “stand up to powerful special interests.”
“He’ll have a lot of explaining to do to the people of West Virginia,” Sanders began. “To tell them why he doesn’t have the guts to take on the drug companies to lower the cost of prescription drugs, why he is not prepared to expand home health care…”
“I’ve been to West Virginia a number of times, and it’s a great state, beautiful people. But it is a state that is struggling,” Sanders added. “He’s going to have to tell the people of West Virginia why he’s rejecting what the scientists of the world are telling us, that we have to act boldly and transform our energy system to protect future generations from the devastation of climate change.”
“I hope we will bring a strong bill to the floor of the Senate as soon as we can and let Mr. Manchin explain to the people of West Virginia why he doesn’t have the guts to stand up to powerful special interests,” Sanders continued.