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Delphi retirees Rep: Emails show ‘back-door deal’ to cut benefits



Published: Thu, August 9, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Emails between the U.S. Treasury Department and the agency that handled the retirement benefits for Delphi salaried retirees reveal a “back-door deal” by the president’s administration to not protect those nonunion members, a congressman said.

President Barack Obama’s “administration decided to pick winners and losers” in the auto bailout that left the 20,000 Delphi salaried retirees, including 1,500 in the Mahoning Valley, without health and life insurance and pension cuts of 30 percent to 70 percent, said U.S. Rep. Mike Turner of Centerville, Ohio, R-3rd.

The Daily Caller, a conservative website that published the emails, says they were obtained from the Treasury Department and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which took over the Delphi salaried retirees’ pensions in 2009 after General Motors declared bankruptcy.

The Obama administration “has been misrepresenting this process,” Turner said Wednesday during a conference call organized by the Republican National Committee.

The administration has said Treasury didn’t make the decision to cut Delphi salaried retirees’ benefits, but the emails contradict that, Turner said.

While the Delphi salaried retirees had benefits eliminated and pensions cut, Delphi hourly retirees, who were members of the United Auto Workers, were fully covered by GM, which received a bailout from the federal government.

Bruce Gump, a retired Delphi engineer in Warren, said on the RNC call that gaining “access to documents has been extremely difficult. These are documents, in my mind, that should have been publicly available so I could at least understand why this was done to me and others.”

The issue has been a contentious one between the campaigns of Obama, a Democrat, and Mitt Romney, his Republican challenger.

Commenting on behalf of the Obama campaign, Willie Thorpe, IUE-CWA Region 7 director in the Dayton area, said “there are a lot of misguided claims” from Romney and Turner.

“As independent fact-checkers have found, the Delphi salaried pension plan was handled according to the standard procedure that applied in 34 other corporate bankruptcies” in 2009, Thorpe said.

“I am extremely sympathetic to those who lost their pension during the GM restructuring,” he said, but added it is wrong for Romney and Turner to “score political points” with this issue.

Additional documents are needed to “follow the line where the administration has been caught red-handed with emails discussing what was happening at the time of those back-door deals where the Obama Treasury was coordinating on behalf of” GM, PBGC and the Auto Task Force, Turner said.


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