Buffett-owned Precision Castparts busts union drive in California

Precision Castparts, the Portland-headquartered metals company that’s is now owned by the world’s second richest man, paid a union-buster last year to defeat a union campaign at a California subsidiary.

According to a required federal disclosure filed in December 2016, PCC Structurals human resources vice president Brian Keegan contracted with Labor Information Services, Inc., of Malibu, California to conduct anti-union meetings with employees of Permaswage.

Permaswage is a PCC subsidiary in Gardena, California, that makes fluid fittings for aerospace companies; it’s also known as Designed Metal Connections.

Machinists District Lodge 725 in Huntington, Beach, California, was seeking to represent workers there, and on Sept. 17, filed a request for a union election. The National Labor Relations Board set an election date of Oct. 21. Then “union avoidance” consultants Chuck Ahern and Miriam Navarro got to work, on Oct. 10. Nine days later, the union withdrew.

It’s not the first time Precision Castparts fought unionization; some of its subsidiaries have union contracts, but at its Portland main campus, the company defeated union campaigns in 1995, 1996, and 2013.

Precision was bought in January 2016 by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway holding company. Billionaire Buffett has garnered great press for expressing concern about rising economic inequality, and some of his companies have unionized workforces. But he’s also spoken out against calls for a $15 minimum wage. Now, a Buffett company fought an effort by workers to unionize.

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