Screw’em All Permanently

By Gregg Shotwell

It’s well known that a signing bonus is a warning flag, a red herring meant to distract attention. The retirement incentives offered by GM, Ford, and Chrysler (and soon to be American Axle Manufacturing (AAM) are no different. If you are seriously considering retirement, you better do the math and get the facts and the numbers in writing.

I got it in writing from the GM Benefits Center. Retirees with Delphi pension credits are second class.

The basic benefit rate (Class B) for GM is $53.35 per month per year of service. The basic benefit rate for Delphi (Class B) is $51.15. Two dollars and twenty cents less.

In other words a GM retiree with 30 years will get a basic benefit of $1600.50

Since GM dumped 27.8 years of my pension credits into Delphi and then bankrupted the company, my combined basic benefit after thirty years will be $1539.34

I will lose $61.16 per month on my basic pension. If GM screws 1,000 people like me that’s $61,160 a month. I guess they can afford to deduct $45,000 from the pension fund for a signing bonus.

The 2007 GM-UAW Highlights stated on page 7 “Delphi ‘Gap’ Issues Resolved” and promised us the same benefits as GM workers, but official information I received from the GM Benefits Center—in writing—contradicts that allegation.

Don’t believe me. Pull teeth from the horse’s mouth yourself. Call the GM Benefits Center at 1-800-489-4646 and demand it in writing because GM/UAW has been known to lie and no one wants their retirement security based on misleading information and a signing bonus that smells like herring.

As it is, retirement in the U.S. is a diminishing expectation. The sinking value of the dollar coupled with the shrinking value of homes makes the nest egg look more like a thing to fret upon than rest assured on.

Normally a recession will bring inflation down because consumers stop spending. But the price of oil isn’t going to come down and oil drives the US economy.

In 2011 it’s inevitable that out-of-pocket health care costs will rise for UAW retirees since the VEBA was under-funded to begin with and health care inflation is outpacing returns on investments. But you don’t have to wait to be denied coverage. Mark Britton was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy in December 2006. Under the VEBA his visits to the local neurologist ($175) are not covered. “I’m in there at least every other week,” Britton said. “Sometimes every week.”

Anyone with a serious illness will quickly exhaust the initial five visits that are covered at the $25 copay under the new plan. After that you will have to pay 100 percent for all doctor visits. Again, demand detailed information on VEBA in your area from the GM Benefits Center before you sign the dotted line. Make an informed decision.

UAW retirees will never see another raise because we don’t have COLA on pensions. Plus, the next generation will never negotiate a raise for the retirees who fought the good fight for their children because we didn’t do any such thing. To the contrary, we stabbed them in the back. Since new hires won’t get pensions, they don’t have a vested interest in solidarity with retirees.

How’s the 401-k doing? Will it last? Did your financial advisor foresee the downturn and warn you to sell in time? They never do. That’s not what they get paid for. Anybody can pick the winners when the stock market is going up. Buying is the easy part. It’s when to sell that makes the difference.

Some autoworkers think they make a lot of money. But the only profit made from labor is what you save. The rest is expenses. You may have some nice toys, but if you don’t show a profit (savings), then your business is a bust. So where is your profit? In your house? In your rapidly depreciating gas guzzler?

If you have to work after you retire, what’s the sense of retiring? You may as well stay where you are, unless your health is deteriorating after a life of systematic abuse on the line. In which case you should get an attorney and file for Workers Comp before you go. You can collect both Workers Comp and pension. If you are forced to go early, you deserve the Workers Comp. You earned it and you may be prohibited from ever working again because of injuries you incurred on the line.

GM as usual is offering retirement incentives that are cheaper than Ford or Chrysler. We’re used to it. Remember when Ford and Chrysler employees got $7,000 bonuses and GM workers got $300?

So no one is surprised we got the short end of the stick again. What’s odd is that GM gave the wrong group of workers incentives. The only people I know who are going to take the SAP are the ones who were ready to retire anyway.

GM offered no incentive whatsoever for workers to retire early. And many of the workers I know who do have thirty years aren’t going. It’s not enough money to entice someone to give up a good paying job in this economy. Too many of us have heard friends who retired early express regrets.

Who can afford to go early in times like these?


SOS,, April 1, 2008