Thursday, June 23, 2011

Did Obama slash non-union worker benefits at GM?

Did Obama slash non-union worker benefits at GM?
posted at 12:30 pm on June 23, 2011 by Jazz Shaw

Back when General Motors became Government Motors, which I’m sure some of our older readers can recall fondly, the Obama administration assured us all that they would not be “intervening in the day-to-day management” of the company. And that’s certainly true… unless you count meddling with the pension checks of workers to balance the books more quickly, “meddling.” Oh, for bonus points, there’s a union connection.

These messages reveal that Treasury officials were involved in decision-making that led to more than 20,000 non-union workers losing their pensions.

Republican Reps. Dan Burton and Mike Turner say that during the GM bailout, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner decided to cut pensions for salaried non-union employees at Delphi, a GM spinoff, to expedite GM’s emergence from bankruptcy.

At a Wednesday hearing, the House Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending started pushing the Treasury Department for answers on the effects of the bailout and on how much of a role the department played in picking winners and losers.

Maybe I’m just suspicious by nature, but that certainly sounds like being involved in the day to day operations of the company. And even if that era has drawn mostly to a close, it doesn’t mean that meddling of another sort won’t keep taking place. The Democrats are already using GM as a poster child in a new series of advertisements, prompting some of the “unexpectedly” ungrateful folks at the auto giant to proclaim that they would really rather not be a Democratic talking point for the next eighteen months.

But back to the original story. I’m sure it was more a matter of administrative convenience, but if it was only “salaried non-union employees” who got their pensions cut, what sort of a message does that send inside the factory walls?
“Gee… nice pension ya got there. Be a shame if anything happened to it just because you didn’t belong to our union…”

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