House vote looms for Delphi pension bill | News, Sports, Jobs
Legislation that would restore lost retirement benefits to some 20,000 Delphi salaried retirees across the United States, many of them in the Mahoning Valley, is heading for a vote in the House now that it has cleared a procedural hurdle, but key.
On Friday, the bipartisan-backed Susan Muffley Law cleared the House Rules Committee, setting up a vote that could take place as early as next week.
It would force the U.S. Treasury to make up the difference between the partial pension benefits retirees received from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation — the insurer of last resort for the nation’s private pension plans — when it took control of the pensions after the Delphi bankruptcy and what was originally owed to them.
In future, retirees would receive their full pension.
“Delphi’s salaried retirees are people who played by the rules. They’ve worked hard and they’ve had the rug pulled from under them, and that’s not right,” U.S. Representative Dan Kildee, D-Flint, Mich., told the committee.
This latest decision comes after an association of Delphi salaried retirees that sued the PBGC in 2009 had its 13-year legal battle to try to recover the involuntarily terminated pensions when in January the United States Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
Delphi, formerly Packard Electric which was once part of General Motors’ parts division, filed for bankruptcy in October 2005 and emerged four years later. While Delphi was under bankruptcy protection in 2009, it ceded responsibility for all of its employees’ pensions to PBGC.
During its own government-planned bankruptcy in 2009, it was determined that GM would fully fund Delphi employees’ union pensions. Salaried pensioners were not so lucky and argued that their pensions should also have been covered.
“After 13 long years of effort, it looks like the House will vote next week on a bill that will restore the pensions of everyone who has not received a top-up. The bill cannot fix everything; it cannot return homes that have been lost due to foreclosure; it cannot reunite families who have separated due to financial stress; it cannot give back the 13 years that salaried retirees have not been able to travel or enjoy the retirement they have earned,” said Bruce Gump of Howland, president of the Delphi Salaried Retirees Association.
“But it can restore the pension scheme, and it means a lot to anyone who has had their pension reduced, to the surviving spouses who had to deal with the loss of the pensioner and then the loss of the pension benefit earned, and those who have saw a much larger reduction due to age than what would have happened under the Delphi plan rules,” Gump said.
The rules committee spent about 30 minutes on Friday debating legislation that Pennsylvania Republican Fred Keller said would set a bad precedent.
“If Congress grants special treatment to these plans covered by today’s bill, the other 5,000 single-employer plans also operated by the PBGC will pressure Congress to do the same for them. “, Keller said. “Does Congress then expect to complete every future terminated plan?” These are serious implications that cannot be ignored.
Kildee, however, said Delphi’s situation has a specific set of facts that stands out from other troubled pensions.
“This was a case where the federal government was directly involved, through the bankruptcy of General Motors, in decisions that specifically targeted these employees. Their pension was a healthy retirement system. These assets were used for other obligations discharged by this bankruptcy. They were lone workers, while others had their pensions taken care of,” Kildee said. “It’s something the federal government has its fingerprints all over, and that’s why we think this legislation is an important solution.”