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Delphi retirees deserved better

Published: Thu, March 3, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

Delphi retirees deserved better

I have no idea how many people saw the recent Bruce Gump and Mary Ann Hudzik interview on WFMJ-Channel 21. It was a 90-second summary of the plight of the Delphi retirees.

Hudzik made a statement that should be the battle cry for the remaining time required for this fight every time anyone wants to understand the significance of earned legacy benefits: “Can’t make me 25 again.” How can it be made more clear. These folks worked their entire lives earning a respectable retirement package as part of the compensation they were entitled to by mutual agreement with GM and, much later, Delphi. The management ripped those earnings away. The unevenhanded treatment that the Delphi retirees received during the unusual bankruptcy was a brutal corporate mugging. By a quirk, the IUE retirees got a respite — possibly temporary — from the fate all other Delphi retirees have suffered.

U.S. Rep. Ryan, state Rep. Hagan, state Sens. Cafaro and Shiavoni have all touted the importance of beating back the Ohio Senate Bill 5 because it is an assault on the middle class and they are right. However, everyone should be perfectly clear about the fact that this assault on the middle class began with the Lykes debacle that led to the wholesale slaughter of steelworkers’ pensions during the early ’80s. The technique was perfected to an art form with the Delphi issue and, fearfully, politicians have assigned both of those examples to “yesterday’s news” without rectifying the misuse these worker groups suffered at the hands of their employers and the government.

Anyone who can make an impact must not allow the current course to be the way this page of American history is written. Fix Delphi and provide a possible avenue for those aging steelworkers to address their unresolved issues.

John Vogel, Mineral Ridge

Not crying and not grandstanding

I am not writing to cry or com- plain about Todd Franko taking a shot at me in this Sunday’s column “Collective Thoughts of a Taxpayer.” As an elected official I expect to be criticized from time to time and have come to accept that fact; however, I do not enjoy being labeled something that I’m not. The conclusions Mr. Franko made about me in his column are untrue and unwarranted. “Hagan, Gains, Schiavoni and the gang can grandstand all they want. They cannot cash the checks they want to write — and they know it,” Mr. Franko stated. Number one, I have no gang affiliation. Number two, I am not a grandstander. Just to be sure, I looked the word up in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and found out that “to grandstand” means “to play or act so as to impress onlookers.” I clearly have not been grandstanding for the past three weeks.

On the contrary, I dedicated my life to learning everything that I could about the history of Ohio’s collective bargaining system because I knew how important this issue was going to be to my constituents. Every day, my staff and I have made it our number one priority to help concerned citizens understand the pending legislation and explain to them how it will affect their lives. I have listened very carefully to more than 25 hours of testimony as the ranking Democrat on the insurance, commerce, and labor committee and asked questions of nearly every witness. I have been invited to multiple events by concerned citizens to explain the bill and have done interviews with national media outlets. I have been 100 percent truthful with my explanations and have spoken from the heart. I have not been playing, acting or trying to impress onlookers. So call me what you want, but please do not call me something that I am not.

Joe Schiavoni, Youngstown

The writer is a Democrat representing Ohio’s 33rd Senate District, which includes Mahoning, Carroll and portions of Stark and Tuscarawas counties.

Sick-day buyouts are win-win

In the debate over Ohio Senate Bill 5, proponents have deliberately misled the public on issues regarding public sector union contracts. Let’s just take a look at one mentioned in an editorial by The Vindicator that involves sick day conversions that could have consequences for public employers.

Sick day conversion is a deferred benefit where unused sick days are prorated and converted into what might be called severance pay. For example, over 30 years, a teacher may have accumulated as many as 300 sick days, and if they retire they could be paid for 45 days or about 1.5 days per year. When critics of public unions talk about this practice, they usually ignore the fact that workers receive compensation for only a small percentage of their accumulated sick leave.

Nor do they discuss how the accumulation of sick leave serves the interests of taxpayers and allows public agencies and schools to operate more effectively. Unions and employers have negotiated this policy as an alternative to a “use it or lose it” system of sick days. While the policy benefits workers, it also saves money for public employers.

Under a “use or lose it” system, workers would have an incentive to use their sick days within the year. That would likely increase the number of sick days used, and in most settings, that would require public employers to pay substitutes (for teachers) or overtime to other employees. Alternatively, they could provide less service. Simply put, a “use it or lose it” system would cost taxpayers more and decrease public services.

Commentators on both the right and the left, as evidenced by recent comments on both Fox and MSNBC, agree that the goal of SB 5 and similar bills is to undermine organized labor and thus shore up the power of the Republican Party, not to balance state budgets. In their pursuit of political goals, proponents of the bill, both public officials and commentators, are presenting incomplete and skewed information about the wages, benefits, and working conditions of Ohio’s public workers.

John Russo and Sherry Linkon, Youngstown

The writers are co-directors of the Center for Working-Class Studies at Youngstown State University.

Don’t even say ‘government’

It seems as though everyone is fed up with the government on all levels, local, state and federal. I’ve read a few letters to the editor in past weeks and one stated that it was the people’s fault for voting in the wrong people. The problem is there aren’t any right people.

They all sling mud and tell on each other like children. They all promise to do good and say whatever the people want to hear. Then screw us over. Funds have been cut from the “HEAP” program and a lot of other necessary other programs such as Medicaid.

Just saying the word government makes my blood boil. They made us buy digital boxes for TVs. When they go bad who replaces them? We do. Now they are telling us what kind of light bulbs we must use. People are actually hoarding regular light bulbs as they won’t be made anymore. This is the most ludicrous, idiotic thing I’ve ever heard.

Dana Olsen, Youngstown


1shopman12(1 comment)posted 4 years ago

I agree with the thinker. John Russo and Sherry Linkon are trying to defend the sick leave system as win/win. It isn't. It was never meant to be deferred compensation. It was supposed to be a way for people to accumulate unused sick leave for future use if they had serious health situations. Also, they point out that people receive only a small percentage of their accumulated time. What they fail to point out is that it is paid at their current pay rate, which in most cases is much much higher than the rate at which they earned this time.
And, like the thinker points out, they seem to be saying that people should be rewarded for not abusing the system. We shouldn't need a reward for doing what is right. Instead, why not deal with the people that abuse the system?

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2CompMan(125 comments)posted 4 years ago

Help me understand why 2 very well published and referred academia experts on public and private labor matters need a union to negotiate their own total compensation packages? You would think meritocrazy would be preferred espescially within a university setting. Maybe George Bernard Shaw's quote "Those who can do, those who can't teach" does mean they need this career protection.

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3300(573 comments)posted 4 years ago

I think there's a lot about the professional world you don't understand, Compman.

I'd suggest learning how things are organized, and how the processes work, would do you a lot of good. It's clear that you haven't a clue about public employees or academia by the words that you used.

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4300(573 comments)posted 4 years ago

BTW, I'm not a public employee, but going through college and grad school lets you learn about a lot of things; including who George Bernard Shaw actually was.

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5redvert(2118 comments)posted 4 years ago

300, with all that education, shouldn't one be able to think for them self?

Do you know what the term "book smart" is? Might be the case here.

George Bernard Shaw was a novelist, and playright among other things who is also well known for his many quotes. Hope it didn't take grad school to learn that!

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6300(573 comments)posted 4 years ago

Redvert, I'm just of the opinion that if someone is going to quote someone, they should at least know who the person was. Ironically, I went to the same institution that Shaw established for part of my grad work.

People should be book smart and street smart, someone lacking either isn't a complete person. Whether it's the economist who knows every model, but not how to apply them properly to real life situations, or the local blowhard who never took the time to read a book or put in the effort to better himself, they're still incomplete people.

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7300(573 comments)posted 4 years ago

Jessie, I haven't, and I won't click on your link. Sum it up into a few sentences if it's so compelling.

First they were "Cadillac" benefits, now they're "Rolls Royce" benefits. It almost makes me want to become a school teacher.

The reason I feel compelled by all this is because we've got retired union people attacking the rights of current union people. We've got people who are comparing a Wendy's worker to a teacher with a master's degree, and saying how much more a teacher makes (when in reality, society would be better off if all the Wendy's workers unionized and demanded decent wages). All the while, the investor class rakes in more returns. Just imagine what could happen if the financial people could get everyone on a 401K, literally billions in increased revenue for them.

I just want for people to understand truly how things work. When people realize that their enemy is the corporate banker, not the cop or teacher next door, then society can start to improve.

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8walter_sobchak(2032 comments)posted 4 years ago

The abuse of "sick days" has caused private industry to bundle vacation, sick and personal days into "paid-time-off" days. A good workable solution. To say that the accumulation and payout of sick days is a win/win is a joke and shows why the wrietrs feel the need to belong to organized labor which rewards those at the bottom at the expense of the worker at the top.

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9300(573 comments)posted 4 years ago

Jessie, you post the same link continually, in more or less the same type of wording. Are you working on some sort of PR campaign?

I'm not sure whether it takes a "Shaw grad school" for this or that, but I will say that most of the people there have got the macro and the public finance knowledge to know that collective bargaining and the public sector are not what is hurting state budgets the most.

Some tweaking is required with regards to some of the pensions, but emasculating the unions is purely of a political nature. Far greater economic benefits would be had by re-organizing the public education system to eliminate all the small districts, along with the inherent capital costs. The state could also stop giving tax credits to firms that likely won't honor their responsibilities.

Based purely on economics, one wouldn't touch the salaries of families making 100K or less, but substantially increase the rates on those making 200K or more (the reasoning being that those at the top rarely spend what they receive by tax cuts, they tend to invest them or sit them in a bank account where they do next to nothing for helping the economy; this is currently being played out with the NYSE).

It's easy for people to blame people whom they know, but it's those like Kasich while at Lehman who cause the true budgetary problems.

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10ValleyNative(174 comments)posted 4 years ago

I enjoy reading all these sentences that have periods, proper grammar, lack of all-caps writing, etc. The usual writing on here would make anyone's head spin.

There are some intelligent people in the Valley! Halleluiah!

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11CompMan(125 comments)posted 4 years ago

300, just for the record I have been fully aware who Shaw was and his past for many years. My reference to his quote on teachers was indeed meant to peak inquisitive interest on the silliness of learned experts needing coddled with economic security dictated by a third party. It also seemed paradoxical that a man who had a hated of teachers was a part of the famed London school meant to educate. My college education served my professional world career quite nicely whilst I believe your further education may have made you snarky on practical interpeted situations. Good Day.

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12redvert(2118 comments)posted 4 years ago

300 wrote "People should be book smart and street smart, someone lacking either isn't a complete person. Whether it's the economist who knows every model, but not how to apply them properly to real life situations, or the local blowhard who never took the time to read a book or put in the effort to better himself, they're still incomplete people."

Probably quoted someone without giving proper credit!

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13SickofJimbo(140 comments)posted 4 years ago

When Schiavoni, Hagan, Letson and Ryan grandstand for the Public sector they have to realize they are not fighting for the average guy but for the Sector they belong to. We in the private sector are paying them to protest on THEIR behalf. Hagan Letso and Ryan have been leaching off the system for a long time, Schiavoni just began.

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14redvert(2118 comments)posted 4 years ago

saddad, the tea party guy would want the same as you would. That doesn't mean that the private sector should pay for your greed!

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15JME(801 comments)posted 4 years ago

Here's the other link:


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16ront(119 comments)posted 4 years ago

how hypocritical is to say delphi retirees losing their pensions, most of whom are salary and non union, while at the same time jumping for joy that union workers are paid too much, have too many benefits, and cause companies to either close or move else where are villified ?

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17JME(801 comments)posted 4 years ago


there are 2 letters-to-the-editor listed above. The second letter is not about Delphi pensions. Maybe you should read more than the headlines.

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18JME(801 comments)posted 4 years ago

I stand corrected, there are 4 letters-to-the-editors above in which 2 (the second and third) are directly related to SB5.

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19ront(119 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago


the headline on the is delphi retirees deserve better. given the attitude on many in the valley, if was the uaw members losing their pension, people would jump for joy. i wonder about the disconnect.

i think they do deserve better. because if delphi can eliminate their pension, the tax payer will be paying it through the fed pension fund set up just for such occasions.

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20anothermike(215 comments)posted 3 years, 12 months ago

Back in the day, most bargaining was for an increase in pay...the benefits were OK, but you couldn't eat them or pay your rent with them. The public employees changed all of that, expecting to "cash in" if they were fortunate enough to never become ill and had no interest in taking time off. Benefits are, or should be an insurance, nothing more. Government simply cannot afford to hand out thousands of dollars to employees who "retire" ten years before everyone else, collect their pensions each month and get re-hired and get back (stay) on the public payroll. I owned a home for 25 years and paid annual premiums for insurance. I sold the house and asked the insurance company if I could expect a refund on the premiums I paid over the years since my home never burned to the ground...guess what their reply was..........

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