WASHINGTON, D.C. | December 2, 2009
Today, the House Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee held a hearing to investigate how and why certain salaried employees of the Delphi Corporation were denied their full pension benefits in the wake of the General Motors and Delphi bankruptcy. Serious questions remain unanswered about the role of the Department of Treasury and the White House’s Auto Task Force in the bankruptcy proceedings, which resulted in different employees receiving a more favorable treatment on their pension plans.
“There is so much more that the American people do not know at this point. What is the culpability of the federal government in this situation? What role did the White House and Auto Task Force play? How active was it in determining the ‘winners’ and ‘losers’?” asked Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), the panel’s top Republican. “And what terms did they dictate? To those questions, we have no answers.” (For a copy of Price’s full opening remarks, click here.)
During testimony before the committee, Rep. Chris Lee (R-NY) and Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH) underscored the importance of determining, for the sake of Delphi employees, what decisions were made and how they were made:
“Delphi’s hourly and salaried retirees worked side-by-side for many years, mostly as GM employees,” said Rep. Lee. “Yet they are now being treated so differently and inequitably by their government, with some bearing a small burden while others take the lion’s share. Many of my colleagues, including those sitting with me on the panel today, have appealed to GM, Delphi and the Administration to intervene and provide fair and equitable treatment for Delphi’s hourly and salaried retirees. At minimum, these decisions – and how these decisions were reached – ought to be explained sufficiently to these workers.”
“Mr. Chairman, all of these retirees, regardless of labor affiliation or not, worked alongside each other during their careers,” said Rep. Turner. “They should not be treated differently in their retirement.
“Salaried retirees made their careers by supporting Delphi Corporation. Congress and President Obama’s Administration owe it to these hard working men and women to pursue aggressive oversight in this matter, and to work toward a solution.”
The gap in transparency in today’s proceedings has left many questions unanswered. Just as important, it speaks to a chronic lack of transparency on the part of the Administration to adequately explain its involvement in the reorganizing and ownership of portions of the American auto-industry – particularly when it may have had adverse affects on the retirement security of American workers. Republicans will continue to seek answers from the head of the Auto Task Force and other individuals who made decisions behind closed doors – ultimately picking winners and losers among workers and retirees.
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