- Senator Bernie Sanders lashed out at Warren Buffett over the working conditions of American railroad workers.
- Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway owns BNSF Railway, which posted a record $6 billion in profit last year.
- US railroad workers threaten to strike over lack of paid sick leave and heavy schedules.
Senator Bernie Sanders has called on Warren Buffett to raise billions of dollars as railroad workers fight for paid sick leave and better working conditions.
“Warren Buffett, the owner of BNSF Railway’s parent company, became $1.38 billion richer yesterday,” Sanders said. tweeted On Wednesday, Berkshire Hathaway stock closed higher on Tuesday, citing a boost to Buffett’s wealth.
The Vermont senator said, “In one day, Mr. Buffett made twice as much money as it would cost to guarantee every railroad worker in America 15 paid sick days a year.” “The greed of the rail industry must stop.”
US railroads and railroad unions have been at loggerheads this year over wages, hard scheduling, lack of sick pay and staff shortages.
Talks almost broke down in September with a strike, and some workers are threatening to walk out next month, which could disrupt the holiday season and shock the US economy.
Buffett is Berkshire’s CEO and owns about 16% of the conglomerate, which counts a number of companies among its subsidiaries, including Geico, See’s Candies and BNSF Railway.
Berkshire has a decentralized structure where most of its companies have their own CEOs and operate autonomously. This allows Buffett to distribute capital among them and focus on making other investments, rather than dealing with their day-to-day activities.
In addition, Buffett’s capital gains are a product of Berkshire’s stock price. Although the investor is worth $110 billion on paper, he is known for living a modest lifestyle, having given more than half of his Berkshire shares to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and their family foundations since 2006.
Nevertheless, Sanders repeatedly urged Buffett to intervene in his railroad company. “He must ensure that railroad workers receive decent wages and safe working conditions,” the senator said. tweeted in September.
Buffett has called BNSF one of Berkshire’s “big four,” along with its insurance business, its energy business, and its roughly 6% stake in Apple. In his annual letter this year, he described BNSF as “the most important artery of U.S. commerce, making it a vital asset to both America and Berkshire.”
BNSF, which operates more than 32,000 miles of track in 28 states, employed about 35,000 people at the end of 2021, according to Berkshire’s latest annual report. The railroad generated nearly $23 billion in revenue last year, or about 8% of Berkshire’s total revenue, and earned a record $6 billion in net income.
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