Pass legislation making Delphi pensions complete | News, Sports, Jobs


It is right that Congress is resuming efforts to complete Delphi employee pensions, and we urge support for the measure introduced this month.

The legislation is being driven by Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, and is supported by lawmakers from Michigan, Ohio, New York and other states. If approved, it would provide retirement funds to about 20,000 former Delphi retirees and their families — thousands in Ohio.

Delphi’s employed retirees and their beneficiaries have been in this litigation for nearly 13 years. The US Supreme Court in January declined without comment to hear retirees’ appeals against a lower court’s ruling on their claims.

At least eight other bills related to Delphi employees have been brought before Congress over the years. Kildee is optimistic things will be different this time now that the matter is no longer pending in court.

The retirees and their supporters argue that Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the government-chartered insurer of last resort, failed the Delphi pension plans. PBGC did not have the right to take over the pension plan after Delphi’s bankruptcy without a court hearing the retirees’ objections.

If General Motors, which spun off its auto parts business as Delphi in 1999, wanted to fund full union pensions for Delphi workers as part of its own government-planned bankruptcy in 2009, then their pensions should have been covered too, retirees argue.

US Representative Tim Ryan, D-Howland; Michael Turner, R-Dayton; Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo; Bill Johnson, R-Marietta; Debbie Dingell, D-Mich.; and Warren Davidson, R-Mich., are also co-sponsors. Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; and Gary Peters, D-Mich.; will introduce the bill to the Senate.

Since we have repeatedly advocated making these pensions complete in this area, we support the measure again.

Most salaried retirees lost 30 to 70 percent of their promised pensions after the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation took control of pensions following Delphi’s bankruptcy.

Indeed, it is not uncommon for pensions to be lost through bankruptcies. Some readers may even argue that if Congress uses taxpayer money or other funds to fund this retirement plan, then it would only be fair to fund every pension that has ever been lost in bankruptcy.

Of course, we know that this is not always possible and we give particular support to this issue given its particular circumstances.

In the Delphi case, the federal government under the Barack Obama administration and General Motors, once owners of Delphi’s parts division, worked out a deal to protect the pensions of Delphi’s unionized workers while ignoring similar demands by the company’s salaried retirees worked the same number of years in the same factories as the unionized workers.

GM continued to contribute to unionized retirees, “refill” their reduced pensions, while leaving retired employees with significantly reduced benefits.

We believe this decision is among the most outrageous and unfair mockery perpetrated against law-abiding, hard-working citizens of our Mahoning Valley.

Reports and analysts have estimated that Delphi retirees will lose approximately $440 million in total in retirement benefits. That equates to around $100 million in Mahoning Valley alone.

We are pleased that Ohio lawmakers, including both Ohio U.S. Senators and Congressmen Ryan and Johnson, both representing our region, are supporting the latest legislative action, especially after both have become so strong following the recent conclusion of the litigation have reported word.

We hope our federal lawmakers will recognize the need and wisdom of fair treatment. We support the measure that would put an end to this unfair action and we urge its adoption.

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