The fight for pension fairness continues for Delphi salaried ret - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

The fight for pension fairness continues for Delphi salaried retirees

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DAYTON, Ohio - Delphi salaried retirees who feel that the federal government's auto bailout left them out in the cold and let them air their grievances before some members of Congress.

A two hour field hearing of the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was held at Sinclair Community College in Dayton on Monday.

Bruce Gump of Trumbull County was the first to testify saying, "It was our government that stepped in and kicked us to the curb like yesterday's garbage, and took care of their political favorites."

The investigative panel is determined to find out why Delphi salaried retirees lost so much; including their healthcare, life insurance and in some cases up to 70 percent of their pensions, in the GM/Delphi bankruptcies and the government's auto industry bailout.

Hourly retirees were able to keep their pensions.

The Delphi Salaried Retirees Association says Congressman Mike Turner of Dayton pushed to get this hearing, and they say the Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives has stood strong in his support of the salaried retirees and is working to move their fight forward.

"In this case because of TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program), the federal government became all of the parties. They acquired General Motors, and with the Auto Task Force could direct the PBGC (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation). They became the bond holders for General Motors and they also had political ties with the union representation," Congressman Turner tells 21 WFMJ. "So these Delphi salaried retirees did not have anyone at the table representing them, they should have, and from the White House Department of Treasury, the decision came down that their pensions were to be cut, it's just not fair."

"We're fighting an injustice here," he continues. "There's no one that believes that in the area of pensions that this type of discretion where someone picks winners and losers should be permitted. These Delphi salaried retirees worked side by side with other fellow employees who got their full pensions. We're trying to get to the bottom of this so we can set aside this injustice."

As Mahoning Valley Resident Bruce Gump and other salaried retirees testify, it's clear that the termination of part of their pensions has devastated some lives forever.

Mary Miller with the Delphi Salaried Retirees Association testified saying, "This has cost home foreclosures, bankruptcies, family breakups, and suicides."

As many of the retirees struggle to make ends meet, including 1500 right here in the Mahoning Valley and about 20,000 nationwide, there's still hope that they'll one day recover what they contend was illegally taken away from them.

"If they can do this to us, they can do it to anybody, and if we allow them to get away with it now then that could go bad for people behind us," says Gump, of the Delphi Salaried Retirees Association.

Those testifying say they've been stonewalled by the PBGC, and were told by an attorney for the Treasury Department that "executive privilege" will be invoked if the salaried retirees subpoena documents about the matter.

However, there is a bright spot in this ongoing pension battle; the Inspector General's report is expected to be released in the next month, and should provide some insight into what's brought them here, while the testimony at this Dayton hearing will be taken back to Washington.

"...Take them back to Washington, D.C. and continue to put pressure on the administration to tell the truth. What happened in respect to these pensions and can we get these monies restored," says Congressman Turner.

Turner expects that the next hearing will likely be in Washington and he already has Congressman John Mica on board. 

Mica of Florida, is the Chairman of the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and it's clear he is also demanding answers about how two sets of employees could be treated so differently. 

At the hearing he said the unfairness was very calculated.

"Our committee has many high profile issues right now, we have the IRS, we have Benghazi, we have the NSA scandal and many other issues," he says.

Congressman Mica says that U.S. Representative Turner has been unrelenting when it comes to making sure that fairness prevails for the Delphi salaried retirees.

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