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Delphi Retirees Rally to Win Back Earned Pensions, Benefits

More than 200 Delphi salaried employees rallied in Dayton yesterday to fight to have their pensions restored. WYSO’s Jerry Kenney reports.

When General Motors went through bankruptcy in 2009, about 20,000 non-union salaried pension employees nationwide had their pensions cut. They also lost other benefits, such as health insurance. However, union employees were protected. At the rally Thursday, the former employees of Delphi said that's not fair. Roy Smith worked for Delphi for 33 years when he learned he was losing his life and health insurance one month after he retired.

“Then GM went into bankruptcy, I lost 24 percent of my pension.  The auto task force went behind closed doors and made a deal to top up their pensions,” says Smith. “I just can’t believe that our federal government stepped in, manipulated, interfered and decided then personally decided who would win, and who would lose.  Unfortunately we ended up on the losing end of that, and that’s gonna change." 

Mary Miller worked for General Motors and lost 30% of her pension. She put the blame on the Obama administration and the automotive task force that oversaw the bankruptcy.

“Barack Obama did approve of the politically motivated decisions made by his administration because he has stood by those decisions, and made no effort to rectify this miscarriage of justice," says Miller. 

Spokespeople for the White House say those decisions were not made by Obama adminstration, and say the President's actions saved the auto industry.

New documents are expected to be released by the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp that will shed light on how those decisions were made following a lawsuit by the employees.

Republican congressman Mike Turner, who held the rally, says he will work to continue the investigation. Following the rally, Senator Sherrod Brown said he would introduce legislation to restore the pension to Delphi's salaried employees.

Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.