Brown Statement on House Financial Services Committee Field Hearing on Delphi Retirees in Canfield

U.S. Rep Charlie Wilson Holds Hearing to Examine Ongoing Struggles for Delphi Retirees

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-06) held a field hearing of the House Committee on Financial Services today in Canfield to examine the ongoing challenges for Delphi Retirees. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who has been an outspoken advocate on behalf of Delphi retirees, submitted the following statement for the record.

As we wind down the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) and as one of the major recipients of TARP funds, General Motors, begins to turn the corner to profitability, it is important that we not declare ‘Mission Accomplished' too soon. 

One of the purposes of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 that created TARP was for the Treasury Department to exercise its authority in a manner that "protects home values, college funds, retirement accounts, and life savings."  We should expect that TARP funding directed to the Automotive Industry Financing Program would be used in a manner consistent with those purposes.

Unfortunately, we have already seen in the case of the Delphi pension plans the human and economic costs of not protecting earned pension benefits.  Today, thousands of Delphi salaried retirees and members of the International Union of Operating Engineers, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers are facing draconian cuts to their retirement income.  The bankruptcy process for Delphi and GM, which was made possible through the Automotive Industry Financing Program, protected the pensions of some Delphi workers but not others.  The retirees who were left out are still seeking fair treatment.  Their families and communities are suffering severe economic hardship as a result of these losses.

As the committee responsible for the Congressional oversight of the TARP, I appreciate that the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is holding this hearing in Ohio to hear firsthand about the impact of decisions made under this program on communities such as the Mahoning Valley, Dayton, and other areas that are home to large numbers of Delphi retirees.

Simply put, the Delphi retirees are asking for fairness.  They are asking that the pensions that they earned during a lifetime of service to General Motors and Delphi be honored.  They are asking their government to be on their side in this fight for fairness.

That is why I was so disappointed that the Administration went ahead and appointed the new director to head the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) before taking steps to resolve the Delphi pension issues.  The new director has excellent qualifications to lead the agency but must recuse himself from decisions related to the Delphi pension plans because of a conflict of interest with his previous employment.  That said, the decision to go ahead with the appointment does not and must not preclude action to ensure that Delphi retirees receive the pensions they earned.

The Ohio delegation has been working to bring the key parties together to develop a fair resolution of the Delphi pension issues.  We have written to the leadership of General Motors.  We have written to the Department of Treasury and the Auto Task Force.  We have organized and testified at Congressional hearings.  And we have even written to the President requesting that the Administration bring the parties together to work out a solution.

I ask that the Committee include in the hearing record our letter to the President, signed by nine Senators and 24 Members of Congress.  In that letter we included personal statements from Delphi retirees who were receiving notice of their pension reductions from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.  I would like to highlight one Ohio family's experience.

James Donauer, a Delphi salaried retiree from Dayton wrote.

"I am a Delphi salaried retiree. The PBGC has notified me that they are reducing my pension by

28%. My working career included 32 years with GM. GM gave me a 30-year-service recognition award honoring my service and loyalty, yet the government-subsidized, new GM will not honor my full earned pension. I was forced to retire early from Delphi. ~ General Motors is providing a "top-off" of the PBGC pension payments for Delphi hourly (union) early retirees to make up for their pension shortfall. But not for us Delphi salaried retirees. I was a clerical office worker making less money than many union workers."

He ended his statement with a plea: 

"Please help my family. We need the full pension that was promised. We have a mortgage, property taxes, and monthly bills to pay that will exceed my monthly pension income. I am not eligible for unemployment compensation. I am writing to respectfully request immediate end tothe disparate treatment of GM/Delphi Corporation's pension obligations and its impact on me and on thousands of salaried retirees and their families. My wife and I appreciate your help." 

I would like to thank the Subcommittee for holding this hearing.   I hope that it will move us one step closer to a fair outcome for families like the Donauers.

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