PBGC fights judge’s order in Delphi case

WARREN – The entity that took over pensions of Delphi salaried retirees is asking a judge to reconsider her order that they be forced to turn over documents retirees have been seeking for years in a federal lawsuit.

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, or PBGC, also on Wednesday requested a delay in the Sept. 30 deadline to comply with the order.

U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Mona K. Majzoub ordered last month that records “related to the potential PBGC recoveries in connection with the Delphi Pension Plans” be turned over. The suit is part of the fight by salaried retirees to regain their full pensions, much of which was lost during Delphi’s 2009 bankruptcy. The fight includes about 1,500 salaried retirees from the Warren area.

In the appeal the PBGC renewed its argument that the documents should be protected by executive privilege.

“With no prior warning to the PBGC that the court was not satisfied with the discovery process PBGC and the plaintiffs have been following, or with the pace of PBGC’s production of hundreds of thousands of pages of documents and a privilege log containing thousands of entries, the court has imposed on PBGC the most severe sanction available – denial of PBGC’s right to protect privileged documents.”

In last month’s ruling, the judge had ordered the sides to meet to develop terms of an order that will protect the disclosure of sensitive or confidential information about individual pensions. The agreed-upon terms were to be filed in court by Sept. 9.

In a related matter, the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations on Wednesday announced a hearing is set for Sept. 11 to examine a new inspector general report on the Treasury Department’s role in the bailout.

Subcommittee chairman John Mica, R-Florida, said the report indicated that in a 2009 deal between government-controlled General Motors and one of its major suppliers, Delphi, GM slashed the pensions of non-unionized employees but preserved full pensions for their unionized counterparts.

Despite assurances that Treasury, as well as the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry was not supposed to be involved in day-to-day decision-making at GM, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program found in a recent report that the Treasury Department played key roles in decisions at GM, including in the controversial Delphi deal, Mica said.

The hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Sept. 11 in Washington.

A statement released by Bruce Gump of Niles, chairman of the Warren Legislative Group and vice-chairman for the Board of Directors of the Delphi Salaried Retirees Association, said the retirees hope the committee will hear the truth from whatever witnesses are called, and that they will be able to force additional transparency into the issue.