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Rejected by courts, retirees lay clasp of last report to save pensions

Rejected by courts, retirees lay clasp of last report to save pensions

WASHINGTON (AP) — Dave Muffley idea he had it made when it came to a firm retirement. The Indiana male spent violently 30 years while a salaried maintenance technician for Delphi Corp., a subsidiary of General Motors Corp., accompanied by every one one other accompanied by expected to present with up labour accompanied by a comfortable income by the hour dated he hit 62.

But when GM plunged into the biggest manufacturing bankruptcy proceeding inside history inside 2009, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by the confederate management negotiated its restructuring, Muffley's expected retirement package was slashed, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by his life's trajectory would spiral.

The Russiaville resident, now 68, lost 30% of his retirement savings, his promised health protected from danger keeping coverage accompanied by every one one other accompanied by his trust inside government.

Muffley is one of an estimated 20,000 Delphi workers exist sore by the GM bankruptcy, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by numerous have spent the past 13 years fighting to obtain spine what they lost. After taking the matter all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear their instance this year, the retirees were gash off from their last legal remedy.

Now, they're looking to Congress to do for them what the courts would not. Legislation to reinstate the pension savings of the workers has gained support from both the left-hand accompanied by every one one other accompanied by the fair inside Congress. It passed the House on Wednesday accompanied by every one one other accompanied by supporters are hopeful the Senate will go nearer behind suit.

It's named the Susan Muffley Act, following Dave's wife, who became ill accompanied by every one one other accompanied by died while they were grappling accompanied by the hit to his retirement fund.

The retirees allege that they were discriminated opposed to while salaried employees, compared accompanied by union-covered workers whose pensions were preserved into with every one other accompanied by not here of the bankruptcy. The salaried workers are the engineers, technicians accompanied by every one one other accompanied by mid-level swath of employees who stood inside the centre of the well-paid executives accompanied by every one one other accompanied by the union-covered workers at the company.

After taking a buyout from Delphi at number of years 55 to retain away from a potential layoff, Muffley says, he took one position of position of employment following another to tide him over until he could present with up labour at 62. It was inside that hour dated that his spouse was diagnosed accompanied by pancreatic cancer accompanied by every one one other accompanied by died within trio years.

"Things fell apart, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by things fell apart inside a large way," Muffley says. He estimated he's lost at least $130,000 inside savings due to the pension cuts over the years, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by he's not alone.

Despite the bipartisan support, there is some resistance inside Congress to spending tax dollars to bail not here pension funds.

For the retirees, the strive to obtain the legislation into rules with every one other accompanied by regulations is the latest accompanied by every one one other accompanied by maybe last battle inside an ordeal that started when the workers got swept up inside macroeconomic crosscurrents of the recession.

Muffley accompanied by every one one other accompanied by others inside 2009 established the Delphi Salaried Retirees Association — something of a support category for workers at the auto parts firm who had to obtain into with every one other accompanied by not here of not only position of position of employment losses, nevertheless retirement cuts accompanied by every one one other accompanied by the mislaying of health plans.

Retirees tell stories of loss, severe depression, divorce accompanied by every one one other accompanied by altered courses of their lives. Some retirees' children place off going to college, other workers faced health difficulties from the stress of the cuts.

The salaried retirees have gotten support from every one one curve of local government, condition legislatures, attorneys general accompanied by every one one other accompanied by flat sympathetic words from this president accompanied by every one one other accompanied by the last.

Presidential candidate Joe Biden inside September 2020 said he would labour accompanied by senators to assist reinstate Delphi workers' retirement savings. The following month, President Donald Trump issued a memo calling on the Treasury Department accompanied by every one one other accompanied by other agencies to lay clasp of deed on the issue.

But those words didn't interpret into action. Nothing came of Trump's memo. Nor did anything occur inside the earliest 18 months of the Biden administration.

A number of legislative proposals to assist the Delphi workers have go nearer accompanied by every one one other accompanied by gone over the years lacking becoming law. The latest bill, which cleared the House on a 254-175 vote, would reinstate the workers' benefits accompanied by every one one other accompanied by retroactively build up for what they've lost since 2009.

Members of Congress from both parties, mostly from Michigan, Indiana accompanied by every one one other accompanied by Ohio, have sponsored the legislation. Reps. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., accompanied by every one one other accompanied by Mike Turner, R-Ohio, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by Rob Portman, a Republican, are among those backing it.

Co-sponsors span the spectrum, from Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, a originator of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, to Rep. Andy Levin of Michigan, a subscriber of the progressive caucus.

The White House on Friday issued its own a statement inside support of the bill, saying the management "supports a firm retirement for affected workers."

Muffley points to other legislative saves for pension plans, exist fond of the bipartisan Butch Lewis Act that was included inside the American Rescue Plan. That supplying stalled the insolvency of violently 200 multi-employer pension plans for 30 years, lessening the benefits of violently 3 million workers. Biden spotlighted the measure inside a recent pay someone a call to Ohio.

But there are skeptics. During House debate on Wednesday, Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., called the measure another "Democrat bailout invoice by the sponsors of the nanny state."

"Why should the constituents of my Virginia 5th District pay for someone else's retirement plan?" he said.

HOW IT GOT HERE

When GM went into with every one other accompanied by not here of bankruptcy inside June 2009 due to massive losses all over the Great Recession, the firm said it would not assume pension liabilities for the Delphi unit's salaried workers — mostly since it didn't have an accord accompanied by them, while it had negotiated accompanied by unions for hourly workers.

The government's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. at that hour dated assumed duty for the 20,000 salaried workers' pension plan, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by gash workers' accompanied by every one one other accompanied by retirees' monthly benefits if they were larger than the statutory greatest good that the agency was guaranteed to pay. As a result, some retirees' pensions were gash by while a a large amount of while 70%. But GM did step inside to cover pension losses for union workers.

Those who lost benefits were 4,044 workers inside Indiana, 5,181 inside Ohio, 5,859 inside Michigan accompanied by every one one other accompanied by thousands of others around the country.

While cutbacks inside bankruptcies aren't uncommon, the Delphi workers argued it was unfair that union workers' pensions were protected by GM while salaried workers were left-hand accompanied by permanent cuts to their retirement fund while well while permanent cuts to their health benefits.

The positioning played not here inside conjunction accompanied by a deal negotiated by then-Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner accompanied by every one one other accompanied by then-National Economic Council Director Larry Summers, who led a position of position of employment ability that sank millions of dollars into lessening GM.

Part of the rationale at the hour dated was the need to retain union workers from striking, while salaried workers were seen while additional expendable.

A 2013 inspector general's report said that while the union workers had leverage "to prolong Delphi's bankruptcy or strike, which GM believed would significantly impact its ability to survive, Delphi's salaried retirees had no indeed indeed leverage, other than what they hoped would exist political leverage."

The report estimated the salaried retirees had lost $440 million inside pension benefits. In today's dollars, the retirees would need $900 million to exist made whole.

In a 2011 op-ed inside The Washington Post, Geithner said the bankruptcy "meant sacrifices across the board — from managers, unions, stockholders, creditors accompanied by every one one other accompanied by dealers." But the intent was "to place an extremity to the American automobile manufacturing from unraveling" accompanied by every one one other accompanied by causing a deeper recession that could have cost tens of thousands of additional jobs.

Geithner declined to remark for this story. Summers did not respond to a appeal for comment.

In January, the Supreme Court denied Delphi retirees' efforts to analysis their case. The court of rules and regulations of rules with every one other accompanied by regulations effectively upheld a confederate court's ruling that the rules with every one other accompanied by regulations allows for distressed pension plans to exist closed lacking court of rules and regulations of rules with every one other accompanied by regulations approval.

Kildee, one of the bill's sponsors, told The Associated Press the instance was "particularly egregious since it was the confederate management that engineered the bankruptcy."

Turner said all over the House debate that legislation was obligatory since "no one else has had the White House pick winners accompanied by every one one other accompanied by losers accompanied by every one one other accompanied by lay clasp of away their pensions. It is our duty while members of Congress to address this injustice."

WHAT THE WORKERS SAY

"The the real world is that salaried workers were singled not here accompanied by every one one other accompanied by it's the management that caused this," said Bruce Gump, who lost 40% of his pension accompanied by every one one other accompanied by serves while chairperson of the Delphi Salaried Retirees Association.

"I was 57 when this happened to me accompanied by every one one other accompanied by it was a durable time, for this to occur at the foot of the recession," he said. "The fact that we're eventually getting the watching of the secretary of treasury accompanied by every one one other accompanied by Congress creates some hope inside us."

Julie Naylor, a 68-year-old former nurse who lives inside a suburb of Greenville, South Carolina, says restoring her husband's pension accompanied by every one one other accompanied by health protected from danger keeping would signify she could pay for basic necessities for her family. Her husband, Bruce Naylor, suffered a blow following a procedure outpatient surgery, caused by an undiscovered cerebrum tumor. With her husband now paralyzed on his fair side accompanied by every one one other accompanied by accompanied by restricted speech abilities, Julie Naylor says lacking the health protected from danger keeping promised to him, the medical bills have piled up.

Bruce Naylor is 6 feet, 6 inches accompanied by every one one other accompanied by excessively tall for his wheelchair. Julie Naylor says if her family had the money owed to them into with every one other accompanied by not here of his pension, "I wouldn't have to carry on accompanied by to exist for Medicare" to exist approved for a chair that fits. "We could've fair bought it accompanied by what is owed us," she said.

"We exist a extremely austere actuality accompanied by every one one other accompanied by a extremely uncertain life," she said. "I never idea he could mislay fifty per cent of of his pension accompanied by every one one other accompanied by fifty per cent of of his actuality savings."

WHAT'S NEXT

The legislation would need the management to "top up" the pensions of the salaried Delphi workers, while GM did for the unionized workers.

Bill Kadereit, president of the National Retiree Legislative Network, said the Delphi workers' fight highlights the archaic the natural world of corporate bankruptcy law, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by how it tin wound workers.

"In numerous ways the confederate management fundamentally threw them under the bus accompanied by every one one other accompanied by made the sacrifice of these people to build a deal," he said.

To Muffley, that's what made the deal so painful.

"I can't exist convinced by our management would do something exist fond of this," he said inside go forward of the House vote.

And Muffley has a warning for others who may exist convinced by their own promised benefits are secure: "If the management could do this to us, what else could they do to you?"

___

Associated Press author Kevin Freking contributed to this report.

Rejected by courts, retirees lay clasp of last report to save pensions

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