I got an article in my news feed about the attempt by former Delphi salaried employees to get their entire pensions restored, and it may happen 10 years after the pensions were devalued. But it's kind of an awkward situation and lawsuit that, based on internet searches, nobody really cares about, even though all of us should care about the ramifications of this court case.




The big news back when GM got bailed out by the government was that people would keep their jobs, and this idea that some American companies are too big to fail. That's ironic in 2018 as GM prepares to send thousands of those same employees packing, and it probably demonstrates why corporations should not be trusted with the welfare of the people. At least not long term, which is really government's role.

The other big news back then was that GM would continue to supplement the pensions for the union employees who had worked for Delphi. But not the salaried employees. The union pensions had been guaranteed by GM back when the salaried pensions were solid. When the bailout happened, the government decided GM could continue to supplement the union pensions. The salaried pensions, which were no longer in good shape financially, would be treated as debt to erase.

Let's be honest on all sides about this issue. Most people have not been completely honest because they don't want to make the wrong statement, but I'm not running for office in Ohio, Michigan, or Wisconsin, so I can tell you what former Delphi workers (and the rest of us) are really thinking. Salaried generally means management, educated, and (probably) Republican. Union means the opposite. These people don't see eye-to-eye in general. Salaried employees say they don't begrudge the union employees their topped-off pensions. Union employees might publicly say they feel bad for their former managers. NOPE and NOPE!

And I can see this from both sides, having been in a union for over a decade that later turned its back on me. The union was strong and helped people, some of whom did not deserve help. On the other hand, screw the top brass if I'm not one of them. I bet every union member saw the loss of pensions by the salaried coworkers as proof that unions work. These were the corporate yes-men, but that wouldn't matter now.

Salaried employees saw all this as more proof Obama was the worst. That he was targeting them and favoring the unions. I actually doubt it, even though it would be kind of funny. Sure, there's no way Obama would have hung the unions out to dry, but what the salaried folks need to realize is that their own settlement wasn't really made worse by the government not forcing GM to kick in for their pensions. In our country, a greedy corporation (one you've worked for and loved for thirty years) can declare bankruptcy and default on pensions. It might sound awful progressive-types, but it's just a restructuring strategy meant to save the company, so deal with it, Mr. VP in Charge of Acquisitions. Just keep on loving your company.

 

And union workers, I do have to add this: you made way more than you deserved (comparatively speaking) for so many years that you and your union helped to bankrupt both Delphi and GM. And it seems like a win as you bask in retired glory, laughing at the college-educated pinheads who busted your chops. But unions have generally died because of how most Americans perceive your dealings. I always used to say people were envious when they should have just demanded what I was getting (because of my union) for themselves. People didn't buy that from me on behalf of  my teachers’ union and they don't buy it coming from the UAW. I honestly wish all the businesses followed suit and paid everyone more with better benefits, but when that's not the case, unions just look greedy. In the case of the Delphi union employees still getting full pensions, it also seems unfair, lucky (for them), and maybe even underhanded.

The Delphi retirement issue is complicated, and most of us might think we don't care. But the final decision will possibly affect future pension cases and future bailouts. The government played favorites. I believe that. The union did its job for its members. The salaried employees got screwed over like a lot of people who work for shady employers (focused on building plants overseas rather than reinvesting in American jobs). I think the two sides want to make Obama the hero or the villain, but he didn't cause the poor corporate decisions that led to bankruptcy, so he's no villain. And a hero would have made sure GM could never lay people off while boasting a CEO making $20 million alongside other execs making $7 million, $9 million, $8 million, $6 million, and $7 million. That's about $60 million to six people, and not exactly Obama socialism. My tax money bailed GM out to save jobs, not to make a few people into billionaires and then lay thousands of people off a decade later.

My solution to this whole pension business? Have the union vote to give up a little of their topped off pensions to equalize the pay with their former bosses. I'm kidding. That won't happen. You'd have a bunch of old-ass teamsters blocking traffic in DC. I'd also be fine with taking half of GM's exec compensation and paying off the Delphi retirees. But, you know what, I'd also be fine with those retirees not getting anything more, at least until there's a change that protects all workers. These Delphi salaried retirees are not special when it comes to getting hosed by an employer, and they should be pushing for legitimate change rather than just trying to weasel a pension out of the government union-style. But the one thing that's true of both red and blue retirees is that they don't give a crap about anyone else once they're retired. On the other hand, most Americans don't give a crap about retirees who aren't our (grand) parents, so the feeling is basically mutual.

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