Why do the Delphi salaried retirees continue their fight? This is a reasonable question. After all, they have been at it for almost two years and still have not received the pensions they earned like nearly every other group in the auto industry did courtesy of the United States Government.
They still have to purchase their own health care insurance at a cost of nearly $2,000 per month for a couple, even though a large part of that is reimbursed through a tax credit because they fought for and won a settlement from the company.
They still have to purchase the life insurance that was supposed to be provided as a part of their compensation and which is costly because they are in the older age groups - they are retirees after all.
They have spent about $2 million on their lawsuit so far, but the Obama administration still has not seen fit to reveal to them or anybody else any records. That would be the records of the meeting where all the decisions were made about who would receive the benefit of enough taxpayer provided funds to pay for the unfunded part of pensions and where they also orchestrated one of the best health care plans in America for one group, while leaving others with only minimal health care, and leaving the salaried retirees with nothing at all. One has to wonder just what it is that the government doesn't want anybody to know...
One thing the retirees have said many times is clear: They fight for their pensions, of course, and they fight for "fair and equitable treatment" as their literature and website says. But most of all, they fight for those who will come behind them.
They fight because our own government, the same government that is supposed to provide "equal protection under the law" and be blind to race, creed, or social standing, chose to treat some groups better than others based on what Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner said was "commercial necessity."
Simply put, he meant that because some groups were strong enough to fight back if they didn't receive favorable treatment, those groups were protected by the government the only group at the table with a checkbook big enough to matter. But other groups our government perceived as being too weak to be able to fight back, well, they could be just thrown under the bus, or at best receive only a crumb from the cookie that was given to the strong groups. This is something that UAW President Bob King and past President Ron Gettelfinger said was "a grave injustice."
So what is the message in all this? It's easy. If any American citizen wants any valuable protection from bad treatment in a bankruptcy, then all they have to do is become a part of a group that is big enough, strong enough, rich enough and politically connected enough to be considered worthy of that protection by our government.
It is just wrong for our government to pick winners and losers based on what group they belong to, and it is why the retirees are fighting. They are for their co-workers, for their friends and neighbors who still have jobs, for their communities who have to bear the economic hardship brought on by their removal from the local economies, and for their own children, many of whom are already in the work force, others are just getting started, and for their own pensions.
Everybody should hope they win, even supporting them and encouraging them to keep fighting. For the sake of the more than 85 percent of the American work force that is not represented by a powerful group, they should keep fighting. For the sake of the country that believes in fair treatment for all citizens, not treatment based on power or wealth or position; they should keep fighting.
What would be left to believe in if they lose? If that happens, then it would seem that our government will have simply ignored the founding principles of our country and just gone for the money. Once again our representatives, our elected officials, will have proven that greed drives all. We must not let that happen.
Gump is chairman of the Warren Legislative Group in the Delphi Salaried Retirees Association