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Vote slated today in US House on bill to restore Delphi pensions

A bill that would fully restore the lost retirement benefits and then some to thousands of former Delphi salaried employees, including many in the Mahoning Valley is scheduled for a vote today in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Susan Muffley Act, with bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, also has the endorsement of the White House and United Auto Workers union.

The administration last week formally signaled its support of the bill, writing in a policy statement “by ensuring that those who put in a career of hard work will receive the pension benefits they earned, this legislation supports a secure retire for affected workers.”

UAW President Ray Curry expressed the the union’s support in March.

It would require the U.S. Treasury to make up the difference between the partial retirement benefits the retirees were given by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation — the insurer of last resort for the nation’s private retirement plans — when it took control of the pensions after Delphi’s bankruptcy, and what they originally were due in one lump sum — plus 6 percent interest.

Moving forward then, the pensioners would receive their full pension as if it were never disrupted.

The bill on Friday cleared the House Rules Committee, a procedural but key hurdle to get to a vote.

Today’s vote comes after an association of Delphi salaried retirees who sued the PBGC in 2009 had their 13-year-long legal battle to try to win back the involuntarily terminated pensions come to an end when in January the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

Delphi, formerly Packard Electric that at one time was part of General Motors’ parts division, filed for bankruptcy in October 2005 and emerged four years later. While Delphi was in bankruptcy protection in 2009, it relinquished responsibility for all its employee pensions to PBGC.

In its own government-planned bankruptcy in 2009, it was determined GM would fund fully union pensions for Delphi employees. The salaried retirees weren’t as fortunate and have argued their pensions should have been covered as well.

Some retirees lost as much as 70 percent of their pensions.

“This legislation is the culmination of 13 years of continuous efforts to deliver Delphi salaried retirees the retirement benefits they have always deserved. Over three separate presidential administrations — Obama, Trump, and now Biden — I’ve written dozens and dozens of letters, testified at hearings and had multiple face-to-face meetings with leaders in the White House and Congress to finally get us to this point. I’ll keep fighting until we get this done,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland

Ahead of this afternoon’s vote, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, will discuss the bill alongside Bruce Gump of Howland, chairman of the Delphi Salaried Retirees Association.

rselak@tribtoday.com

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