The news lately about the Delphi retirees' battle with the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. and the Obama administration hits close to home with me. I have numerous relatives and friends who are retired from Delphi / Packard Electric, some hourly and some salaried.
One principle most of us were raised on is the idea of fairness. For example, liberals have made an issue in the current presidential campaign of Mitt Romney - and many people who earn income through investments - paying only 15 percent tax on capital gains earnings, saying that income is income regardless of the source. OK, then how can the Obama administration justify eliminating the medical benefits and slashing the pensions of Delphi salaried retirees while making whole the pensions and benefits of hourly (unionized) employees of the same company?
The explanation by union officials that GM's bailout and reorganization followed standard procedure is hogwash, to put it mildly. Based on the emails exchanged between President Obama's Auto Recovery Task Force and his Treasury Department, we now have proof that the Obama administration made the call on this. They even ''disinvited'' the PBGC to a meeting scheduled to discuss the issue when it was being decided.
Obviously there is still a heavy union influence in this area, but ask yourself this: How would you feel if the company you recently retired from had to be bailed out to avoid bankruptcy and some of the employees' pensions and benefits were guaranteed while you were one of those whose medical was canceled and pension slashed in half - for political reasons?
Which brings us to Warren Mayor Doug Franklin. He wrote a letter to the editor this week saying he felt bad for the Delphi salaried retirees and that both union and salaried should be treated fairly. Well, he's ''a day late and a dollar short,'' as they say, because a week or so ago Mr. Franklin showed much sympathy for the unionized employees and none for the salaried retirees. I don't know why, since the unionized workers' pensions were made whole.
Furthermore, if he really cared about GM employees, then why are most or all the vehicles Warren purchases Ford products? Franklin was safety-service director for eight years before being elected mayor and a councilman before that, so he had plenty of say in what make of vehicle the city bought. Way to support GM employees, Mr. Mayor.
Speaking of ''leaders'' who are supposed to support ALL the people in their jurisdiction, I see where Congressman Tim Ryan - in whose district Packard / Delphi originated and where many of their retirees still live - refused to sign the bipartisan letter asking House and Senate leaders to demand documents from Treasury and the PBGC which would help clarify this issue. Is this Mahoning Valley still so beholden to radical unionism that even our elected officeholders will publicly stick it to non-unionized employees?
The craven and coldhearted decisions made by the Obama administration during GM's bailout and reorganization are other reasons why I've lost faith in labor unions. I worked for 23 years at Copperweld Steel in Warren before it closed in 2001, and seven years at a packaging company where I belonged to the paper workers union. At both companies, if you had a grievance but didn't have close friends at the union hall, then you may as well use that grievance form in the outhouse because they would ''throw you under the bus.''
Frankly, with union / biased leaders like Obama, Ryan and Franklin - who pick and choose who they'll represent - it's no wonder so many people have lost faith in the whole process.
Dunlap is a Weathersfield resident. Email him at email@example.com.