U.S. House set to vote on Delphi pension bill

The House Oversight & Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations held a field hearing in 2013 at Sinclair Community College in Dayton on how the pensions of Delphi salaried retirees were treated. U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (foreground) and U.S. Rep. John Mica (R-FL) (right) and a panel which included Bruce Gump of Warren, OH, Mary Miller of Washington Twp., and Tom Rose of Washington Twp. (left to right) who represented the Delphi Salaried Retirees Association, participated in the hearing. LISA POWELL / STAFF

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The House Oversight & Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations held a field hearing in 2013 at Sinclair Community College in Dayton on how the pensions of Delphi salaried retirees were treated. U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (foreground) and U.S. Rep. John Mica (R-FL) (right) and a panel which included Bruce Gump of Warren, OH, Mary Miller of Washington Twp., and Tom Rose of Washington Twp. (left to right) who represented the Delphi Salaried Retirees Association, participated in the hearing. LISA POWELL / STAFF

The U.S. House of the Representatives is scheduled to vote on a bill restoring pensions for Delphi salaried retirees, most likely Wednesday evening, according to U.S. Rep. Mike Turner’s office.

The next step would be shifting the legislation to consideration in the Senate, a spokeswoman for Turner said Tuesday.

This would be a milestone vote for hundreds of Dayton-area Delphi retired managers and engineers who fought for well over a decade to restore pensions lost or reduced in the bankruptcy of Delphi. Some local retirees will be flying into Washington, D.C. for the vote, said Rachel Walker, a spokeswoman for Turner.

The history in this drama is complex. Auto parts producer and one-time Dayton manufacturer Delphi (now Aptiv Plc) filed for bankruptcy in October 2005. General Motors, which used to own Delphi, went through its own bankruptcy journey four years later.

An association of retired Delphi salaried employees sued the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. in 2009 after the agency took over employee pensions in the wake of Delphi’s bankruptcy.

The relinquishment of the pensions to the PBGC left Delphi salaried retirees with greatly diminished pensions, which stung particularly because GM continued contributing to the pensions of union-represented retirees, under the guidance of the then-new Obama administration.

The salaried retirees never begrudged their hourly counterparts their full pensions. They just wanted the same treatment.

Courts were never kind to the retirees’ legal efforts. A U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decision sided with a March 2019 Michigan federal court ruling that dismissed the retirees’ lawsuit against the PBGC.

And in January 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

Turner first announced the legislative effort last October, although at the time he declined to put a timeline on the effort.

“Tomorrow’s vote in the House is a critical step to bringing this issue affecting more than 5,000 Ohioans to a resolution and returning to them the benefits they so rightly earned,” Turner said in a statement Tuesday.

Some observers have always maintained that this was a job for Congress.

“What happened 10 years ago was a tragedy, but what has happened since has been a scam because the politicians won’t do the one thing that will get the pensions back,” Joshua Gotbaum, who led the PBGC from late 2010 until 2014, told the Dayton Daily News in 2018.

Sen. Sherrod Brown has scheduled a phone press conference today to discuss his legislation aiming at protecting pensions nationwide. Bruce Gump, a leader in the Delphi Salaried Retirees Association, is scheduled to participate.

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