The Constitutional Death of the UAW # 12

By William D. Hanline and Friends
June 26, 2006


President Gettelfinger and V.P. Shoemaker have been perpetrating one scam after another upon UAW members in Delphi, since the bankruptcy was filed. Their nonsense has set the Union movement back decades in organizing. What impression do you think the UAW is installing in the minds of prospective union members when the Union helped GM sue and rip off retirees of their life-long vested pensions benefits? Not only that, they forced workers to perform the same work across form one another, yet one making one half the wages. What kind of image is portrayed when Union leaders help multinational corporations cut wages and benefits and force workers out on retirement to help the companies to compete? Then shortly afterwards those very same companies announce spending plans to spend billions of dollars overseas to make the same products being made by members who are losing their jobs here in the US?  Now, because of that continued type of idiotic thinking, Delphi members are being thrown to the wolves once again, and the UAW is sending them out the door without any legal recourse, with an attrition program that has not been fully negotiated, and a bankrupt company to secure their life long pensions.

The media’s portrayal of the UAW-Delphi-GM Special Attrition Program as some kind of Christmas in June does not accurately portray the trying times for Delphi workers. Nor do the 35,000 workers in Delphi and GM who signed up under the Special Attrition Program (SAP) make it an endorsement of the Cooperation Partner’s (UAW/GM and Delphi) SAP.

Each person has his or her own reasons for participating in the SAP.  Some are tired of working and are financially ready to retire, and then there are those who are not financially ready and are signing up because they feel they have no other choice. Then, there are some are retiring out of fear of losing their healthcare and life insurance benefits, or their retirements all together, because of the Delphi bankruptcy. The reasons are endless and it would be impossible to list them all.


                                      What Curtain Do you Pick?

Though the Cooperation Partners asserted that the SAP was voluntary, most Delphi workers felt Delphi was ramming a size 12 boot up their asses, while all along the UAW was slyly helping to drive the boot even deeper while encouraging members to check the box and sign on the dotted line. Just as the announcer in the TV program “The Price is Right” creates jubilant exuberance in his audience and contestants by saying, “JOHN OR JANE DOE, COME ON DOWN  ” UAW appointees were saying, “Come on in and LET ME SIGN YOU UP ”

This game show atmosphere was not a matter of mere happenstance, it was intentionally done to relieve members of any anxiety and questions they were having about the big “IF,” or all the small “ifs” that were residing in their minds. The cordial, friendly atmosphere was meant to remove all doubt about the SAP and what might happen six months or even a year from now  This car salesperson report was a disingenuous act and designed to install a false sense of trust in the minds of Delphi workers about the UAW, General Motors, Delphi officials and the language of the SAP. However, the attitudes of local union officials started to change from joyful and empathetic to more of a hard-core sales pitch, “You might as well sign up before you lose the opportunity of your life.”

As members sat down with the UAW appointee, the appointee gave that person a copy of the Separation Documents sections (A), (B) and (C), then the UAW appointee told the member to pick and check one of several boxes, much like Bob Parker would ask a contestant to choose a curtain in the game’s final round. What is more, the Delphi worker had no earthly idea what was behind the language of the SAP, any more than the Price is Right contestant knew what was behind the curtain.

However, from the introduction of the GM and Delphi SAP, information started to come out that contradicted the UAW and companies’ rhetoric.

First, during the same week the announcement was made, GM presented its Annual report. ON page 52 of GM’s Annual Report it reads:

“Each Benefit Guarantee Agreement contains separate benefit guarantees relating to pension, post-retirement healthcare and life insurance benefits. These limited benefit guarantees each have separate triggering events that initiate potential GM liability if Delphi fails to provide the corresponding benefit at the required level. Therefore, it is possible that GM could incur liability under one of the guarantees (E.G. Pension) without triggering the other guarantees (e.g. post retirement healthcare or life insurance).”

In other words there are three different benefits plan for Delphi employees, 1) is post retirement healthcare, 2) is post retirement life insurance and 3) is pension. Each has their own triggering mechanisms. For example, when a Delphi worker marked the Box to flow back to GM he/she triggered the benefits guarantee for their post healthcare benefits and Life insurance benefits. However, that did not trigger the pension guarantee.

AH  Is that not contrary to what UAW representatives have been telling Delphi workers? YES it is, for UAW representatives have been informing Delphi active workers that their retirement benefits are guaranteed when they mark the box, even pensions.

On May 21, 2006 an e-mail request for the same information was made of Delphi’s CEO Mr. Steve Miller. His response was:

“Suffice it to say that Delphi is in constant discussions with GM, and that is an extraordinary complex situation.”

“The Agreement is between GM and the UAW. As I understand it, there are two requirements for the Benefit Guarantees to kick in:
(1) Delphi to fail to meet its obligations
(2) For reasons of Financial difficulty (such as Bankruptcy)”

“We have not so far failed to meet our obligations, so the Benefit Guarantee has not kicked in.”
“Steve”

In another E-mail on May 21, 2006, CEO Steve Miller wrote:

“I have no reason to doubt that the GM benefits guarantee, by its terms, expires after October 2007. Therefore, if we do nothing until that time, then Delphi workers would lose the protection of the benefit guarantees, and have the under funded Delphi plan to support retirement.”

“We will simply be unable to exit bankruptcy if plan funding isn’t addressed.”

The event to happened which raises doubt about the SAP,  took place when the resolution “Protecting Our Pensions” was introduced during the UAW Constitutional Convention. Brother Gregg Shotwell asked for a point of information, he asked:
“If Delphi stops paying the pension after the GM Benefit Guarantee expires October 18, 2007,  how can we protect our pensions?”

Even though Shoemaker was not chairing the meeting, he stepped up to the mike and called Brother Shotwell out of order. He told Gregg he would speak to him in private. When Brother Shotwell met Shoemaker, the retired V.P. said: “If you check the box it’s understood that the benefit Guarantee is triggered.”

Brother Shotwell said “But it doesn’t say that,” but Shoemaker retorted back  “It’s UNDERSTOOD ”

As days went by an internet leak of a conversation Miller was having motivated J. Roberson of the Detroit Free press to investigate what was going on. He wrote an article that was printed in the Free Press on June 23, 2007, titled “Delphi Workers Uneasy.” In his article he wrote about contacting a spokesperson for GM, Toni Simonetti.
She asserted, “But the GM Benefit Guarantee still has not been kicked in because Delphi has NOT Terminated its pension plan.” Furthermore Roberson continued, “The agreement on GM’s Benefit Guarantee is scheduled to expire in October of 2007. That would leave Delphi, whose future is uncertain, as the sole backer of the pension fund.

Now let us return to the GM Annual Report, page 52 paragraph 3,  which reads, “If the benefits guarantee is triggered before its expiration date GM’s obligation COULD extend for the life of affected Covered Employees, subject to the applicable terms of the pertinent benefits plans or other relevant agreements.”

In other words, if the pension benefit guarantee is not triggered it will not become a life long benefit, unless, YES unless as Miller and I concurred, it is renegotiated in October 2007.

Just how could the UAW under above pretenses and understandings ask any member to retire pursuant the SAP?

To add insult to injury, Delphi workers have been misled by UAW Brothers and Sisters to believe, when they sign the box to flow back to GM, he/she would get a GM pension. Hog wash

When management was asked under possible violation of ERISA, “Where will my pension check come from if I retire under the MSR and/or if I check the box to flow back to GM?

Management’s answers were,

“1) The pension check will be 100% from the Delphi Trust”

“2) Yes, checking the box is the same as PHYSICALLY flowing back to GM & working less than 85 hours before retiring, because at less than 85 compensated hours you get NO credited service and a Delphi employee who did that would receive 0.0% of their pension from the GM and 100% of their pension from the Delphi Trust.”

The UAW benefits representative’s answers were,

“If you retire from Delphi under the MSR all your money will come from Delphi.”

“If you Flow back to GM the major part of you pension money will come from Delphi and the rest from GM.”

What in the hell was a person supposed to believe?
How can a person make a sound decision concerning his /her retirement based on assumptions, suppositions, handshakes and verbal understandings?

Then to make matters worst, the UAW agreed to ask its members to sign a document that relieves both GM and Delphi of our vested pensions and benefits. Yes, relieves them of those obligations, because once you sign Section B that has the following paragraph, then you are relinquishing your legal rights to go to court for any reason, thereby abolishing your ability to fight and  protect your pension and post retirement benefits. The only recourse retirees have

“I further agree not to institute any proceedings against Delphi, GM, the UAW, or its officers, directors, agents, employees, stockholders or employee benefit plans related to my employment, CESSATION of my employment. Or the denial of any employee benefit.” ( Taken from Form B second last page, paragraph 2)

Brothers and Sisters, the benefits guarantee that protects our basic monthly rate has not been triggered and is to be negotiated. Not only that, Delphi is a company in Bankruptcy and the judge is in control of what happens to Delphi, not Miller or Wagoner.

Delphi Management has been asked one special question over and over again, and they have failed to provide a technically correct answer to it. The question follows:

If I was to retire under the SAP, before or after October of 2007 is there any possible way my basic monthly pension rate can be reduced, if so under what circumstances or conditions?

Miller has failed, management’s equivalent of a benefits representative at my site has failed and the UAW has failed to answer that one simple 2 part question before the 23rd of June.

CEO Steve Miller, and his people are now saying they cannot answer that question because it contains information that was negotiated between GM and the UAW, and they were not a part of those negotiations.

Ironically, an e-mail written to Miller was also forwarded to GM’s Chairman Rick Wagoner, who apparently forwarded it to Preston M. Crabill, Director, Pension and Savings Plans,
General Motors Corporation 313-665-4512, e-mail,  Preston.M.crabill@gm.com

Mr. Crabill simply said he couldn’t respond to the question because it was not included in the e-mail sent to Miller, however, he did say he would respond if we had any further questions.  All we have to do is respond to his e-mail.
Should we try picking another curtain, take another chance, do you think we might get an honest answer form GM?

JOHN/JANE DOE, COME ON DOWN 


   No More Concessions                          
   In Solidarity                         
   Work to rule


    Bill Hanline