GM Retirees Who Lost Full Pensions Turn to Congress

Bankruptcy deal cut payments and benefits for 20K Delphi workers
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 29, 2022 2:30 PM CDT
Retirees Take 13-Year Fight for Full Pensions to Congress
Dave Muffley poses outside a Delphi Corp. plant in Kokomo, Ind., on July 11.   (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Dave Muffley thought he had it made when it came to a solid retirement. The Indiana man spent roughly 30 years as a salaried maintenance technician for Delphi Corp., a subsidiary of General Motors, and expected to retire with a comfortable income by the time he hit 62. But when GM plunged into the biggest industrial bankruptcy proceeding in history in 2009, and the federal government negotiated its restructuring, Muffley's expected retirement package was slashed, the AP reports. The Russiaville resident, now 68, lost 30% of his retirement savings, his promised health care coverage, and his faith in government.

Muffley is one of an estimated 20,000 Delphi workers hurt by the GM bankruptcy, and many have fought for 13 years to get back what they lost. After taking the issue to the US Supreme Court, which declined to hear their case this year, the retirees were cut off from their last legal remedy. Now, they're looking to Congress, where legislation to restore the pension savings of the workers has gained support from both parties. It passed the House on Wednesday, and supporters are hopeful the Senate will follow suit. The retirees argue they were discriminated against as salaried employees, compared with union-covered workers whose pensions were preserved through the bankruptcy. The salaried workers are the engineers, technicians, and mid-level swath of employees who stood between the well-paid executives and the union-covered workers at the company.

But there is resistance in Congress to spending tax dollars to bail out pension funds. For the retirees, the legislative struggle is perhaps the last battle in an ordeal that started when the workers got swept up in macroeconomic crosscurrents of the recession. Retirees tell stories of loss, severe depression, divorce, and altered courses of their lives. Some retirees' children put off going to college, other workers faced health difficulties from the stress of the cuts. The salaried retirees have gotten support from local governments, state legislatures, attorneys general, and even sympathetic words from this president and the last. But those words didn't translate into action. The latest bill, which cleared the House on a 254-175 vote, would restore the workers' benefits and retroactively make up for what they've lost since 2009. The White House on Friday issued a statement in support of the bill, saying the administration "supports a secure retirement for affected workers."

(More pensions stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.