We’ve heard a lot lately about retirees who worked at Delphi, an automotive parts supplier for GM, and I think it’s important to set the record straight. The loss of pensions among Delphi’s retirees is tragic, but Ohioans deserve the facts of this case rather than Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans’ political distortions.
Three years ago, the American auto industry was on the brink, facing a bankruptcy that would have decimated Ohio’s economy. But President Obama made the bold decision to ignore the pundits, the polls, and politicians like Romney and rescue the auto industry, saving the one in every eight Ohio jobs that depend on it.
In 1999, when Delphi spun off from the General Motors, three unions representing some Delphi workers — the UAW, USW, and the IUE — secured an agreement with GM. GM would guarantee the pensions of these workers, should the newly independent Delphi run into trouble. No other Delphi employees, including both salaried workers and workers who were members of other unions, had a similar agreement.
By 2008, the entire auto industry, including GM and Delphi, was in trouble and the U.S. Treasury Department stepped in to help both GM and Delphi restructure.
The GM restructuring involved difficult choices and sacrifices from all stakeholders. GM investors and workers took tens of billions of dollars in losses in order to make the company viable. In the end, GM was able to honor its original commitment to Delphi and secure the pensions of the workers who were protected since the 1999 agreement. Workers who never had those protections, sadly, suffered a pension cut.
Despite Romney’s accusations, independent fact checkers and the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan investigative agency, have reviewed the administration’s role in the auto rescue and found that the Delphi salaried pension plan was handled according to standard procedure and the law that applies to all corporate bankruptcies.
The fact is that Mitt Romney opposed Obama’s auto rescue at the time and said we should “let Detroit go bankrupt” when the auto industry was on the brink of collapse. Now that the political winds have changed and Obama’s bet on American auto workers has saved countless jobs in Ohio and across the country, Romney is trying to cover his tracks. First he argued that the auto rescue was a failure. Then, he tried to take credit for it. Now, he’s trying to exploit Delphi workers who lost part of their pensions when GM and Delphi were restructured, for his own political gain. Shameful.
Romney’s recent attempts to use the plight of Delphi workers for his political advantage is troubling, but not surprising coming from a man with a history of staking his personal gain on the misfortune of middle class workers. After all, Romney made his fortune on the backs of the middle class by sending American jobs overseas, and destroying jobs here at home — all to maximize profits for himself and other wealthy shareholders when he as a corporate buyout specialist.
Mitt Romney knows that his record as an outsourcing pioneer who opposed the auto rescue, will turn Ohio voters off at the polls. It should come as no surprise that Romney is attempting to change the conversation.
But Ohio voters know better, we deserve better, and we will see through the distortions this November.
Doug Franklin, mayor of Warren, wrote this art the invitation of David Betras, chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party.