When the U.S. Government took over General Motors, the Administration made a decision that resulted in approximately 20,000 current and future salaried Delphi retirees from across the country taking a severe cut of up to 70 percent in their promised pension benefits earned throughout their careers. This action undertaken with taxpayer funds has not been explained or justified. At my request, on November 14th, Delphi retirees from our community will have the opportunity to tell their stories before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (OGR).
The hearing, to be held in Dayton and conducted by Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, follows a June 22nd hearing in Washington that I along with Congressman Dan Burton (IN-5) requested by the OGR Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending to review the “Lasting Implications of the GM Bailout” At this hearing, Members of the Subcommittee questioned Ron Bloom, who served as the Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the President’s Task Force on the Automotive Industry. This position placed him as the head of the government’s auto bailout program and key decision maker regarding the Delphi retiree’s pensions.
In a March letter requesting the subcommittee hearing, I noted that “Unions were treated differently [in the decision making process] with the so-called ‘splinter unions’ such as the IUE, IBEW, and IAM still facing benefit reductions while the UAW retirees saw their pensions topped off and continue to receive full benefits…In fact, the IUE pensions were initially slated to take the same cuts as salaried retirees, but the A[uto] T[ask] F[orce] reversed this decision three weeks after GM emerged from bankruptcy.”
Furthermore, “because of the substantial taxpayer investment in the auto industry, and the role of the Federal Government Agencies resulting in the reduction or elimination of these benefits, Congress has a responsibility to exercise its oversight authority in this matter and ensure that all Delphi employees receive the pensions they deserve.” The fact is that both union and salaried employees worked hard for their pensions. Union employees certainly deserve their full pensions, but so do salaried employees.
However, at the hearing, Mr. Bloom claimed that he wasn’t able to talk about the bailout because of pending lawsuits. I took exception with this fact, and informed Mr. Bloom that pending litigation had no effect on his ability to testify as to the truth of what occurred. Despite his evasion of my questioning, I submitted over 20 additional questions to both Mr. Bloom and the PBGC. These questions cover how the Delphi pension decision was reached, and what plans are in place to ensure that these current and future retirees receive their pensions. Mr. Bloom has since left the White House, and I have forwarded my questions to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. It has been over a month and we are still awaiting a response to these inquiries.
This hearing is another step in the process of uncovering how this decision was reached, and who was responsible. My continued work on this issue is part of an effort to seek the restoration of these hard earned pension benefits. The hardworking Delphi salaried employees deserve their pensions, just as union employees who have their full pensions. I will continue to press for the answers to my questions and those of Delphi employees who have yet to be made whole on their pension losses.