USW, CWA, IUOE unions seek equity for former GM and Delphi workers in restructuring
Contact: Gary Hubbard (USW), 202-778-4384; 202-256-8125
Washington, D.C. – A letter transmitted by 13 Ohio congressional members and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to U.S. Secretary of Treasury Timothy F. Geithner was made public today. The letter urges ‘simple justice’ with equity in financial support for the future medical and life insurance benefits of GM retirees represented by the United Steelworkers (USW) and two other unions.
Nearly 50,000 former employees of GM or Delphi and their dependents stand to lose most or all of their medical coverage in the GM bankruptcy proceedings.
The USW represents 6,200 retirees and surviving spouses, saying the present value of the lost benefits is at least $424 million. According to the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the lost benefits of 41,000 GM Delphi retirees and surviving spouses they represent are valued at $2.87 billion. Other Delphi retirees are represented by the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE).
USW President Leo W. Gerard released the congressional letter, saying, “Along with the CWA and IUOE, we have filed objections before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on behalf of the retirees and hope that our federal government will come to its senses on fairness for the former GM workers who contributed nothing less than the auto workers to the fortunes of the company.”
The Ohio congressional delegation’s letter emphatically stated to the treasury secretary: “In short, it is your representatives who have decided that these retirees will not have an opportunity for a decent retirement.”
Criticizing the treasury department, the bi-partisan congressional letter said the impact goes far beyond the retirees and their families. “Crucially, the great majority of these affected persons live in Dayton and Warren, Ohio, two cities already suffering due to the closing of GM and Delphi plants and whose recovery will be crippled by the loss of health insurance by tens of thousands of their residents.”
The letter urged the U.S. Treasury Secretary to “do the right thing, which is to treat these retirees exactly as it treated the UAW represented retirees by either placing them in the UAW VEBA, with proportionately increased funding so the UAW retirees suffer no diminution of benefits, or by creating a separate non-UAW VEBA with funding sufficient to provide identical benefits.”
The congressional members declared: ”Simple justice requires that your department afford them access to the same medical and life insurance benefits.”
According to the unions, the treasury department has agreed to protect a significant amount of medical and life insurance benefits of the UAW-represented GM retirees by establishing a VEBA trust with funding of $10 billion in cash, a $2.5 billion note and 17 percent of stock shares in a newly-structured GM.
When GM met with the USW and CWA earlier this month to negotiate for the former Delphi retirees, GM proposed to eliminate all medical insurance for Medicare-eligible retirees and offered an unaffordable, catastrophic medical plan for other retirees available only until they turned 65.
The 13 Ohio congressional members who were signatories of the letter are: Rep. Betty Sutton (D-13); Charlie Wilson (D-06); Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-11); Rep. Tim Ryan (D-17); Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-14); Rep.Patrick Tiberi (R-12); Rep. Michael Turner (R-03); Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-15); Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-01); Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-10); Rep. John A. Boccieri (D-16); Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-09); Rep. Zach Space (D-18).
Click here to access a full copy of the letter and the congressional signatories.