The GM/Delphi/UAW ‘Buyout’ Swindle
It’s what they don’t tell you that gets you in the end.
As when they encouraged us to ratify the National Agreement in 1999 but didn’t tell us that all our pensions credits had been switched from GM to Delphi.
As when UAW International reps from Delphi were protected from that accounting scam because their pensions stayed with GM per a special provision in the aforementioned agreement. If the deal wasn’t good enough for them, what did they know, back then, that we don’t know now?
As when business agents persuaded employees in captive audience meetings to invest their savings in Delphi stock but failed to mention that GM planned to strong arm Delphi into selling products below cost.
As when Battenberg (Delphi Corporation’s CEO, J.T. Battenberg III) bragged in 2000 that the Delphi pension was fully funded and then under-funded the pension in 2001, ’02, ’03, ’04, and ’05—while simultaneously purchasing assets overseas. Assets, which are protected from creditors, including union members, in bankruptcy court.
As when UAW International reps Joe Spring, David Shoemaker, and Jim King sat on the Delphi Pension Board of Administration but failed to inform us our pension was headed for the dumpster.
As when GM promised $1 billion in new business with Delphi contingent upon ratification of the 2003 National Agreement but instead curtailed investment in Delphi.
As when Delphi made a contractual commitment “in definitive, enforceable terms to make sufficient capital investments in UAW represented plants to allow them to be competitive, improve product quality, improve operational effectiveness and be viable for the long term” [UAW-Delphi 2003 National Agreement] but instead invested in foreign assets and systematically undermined U.S. operations.
As when the UAW International finally took a strike vote and then promptly aided and abetted Delphi’s scheme to flood the plants with replacement workers, and thereby render the strike vote an empty threat.
As when Delphi CEO, Steve Miller, declared at the Detroit Economic Club that “Bankruptcy is a growth industry.” Then, with a straight face he admonished protesters to “Trust your leaders.”
As when Delphi’s creditors filed a lawsuit against GM and former Delphi officers to recover “billions of dollars in payments related to damages” from the spin off but requested the judge keep the information confidential because it “could hurt Delphi’s restructuring negotiations.” And the judge agreed it was best to keep us in the dark. (“Delphi Creditors Aim to Use SEC Probe Data in GM Suit,” by Joseph Rebello, Dow Jones Newswires, July 27.)
As when…well, why bury readers in redundant information when everyone knows? After all, even potatoes grow eyes in the dark, and Lord knows, we’ve got more sense, if not motivation, than a root cellar full of spuds.
Money doesn’t disappear—it changes hands, one man’s sleight is another man’s trade. As they say on the Street, it’s not a game of chance so much as a game of exchange. It’s not what you know, it’s what you don’t know that guts you, dresses you, and hangs you upside down in a stall. The insider has the edge and the outsider gets the “better luck next time.”
Huge pension funds invested in Delphi under false pretenses. Delphi employees were persuaded to sock away their life savings in a fraudulent enterprise. Consequently, a massive amount of wealth was transferred from one class to another. The beneficiaries of this transfer are Delphi executives, lawyers, and the flock of vulture capitalists who are lined up for the fire sale.
It’s clear to those of us on the shop floor that Miller intends to trash the business and sell it piecemeal at cut rate prices to cohorts. The scorched-earth policy is justified as “rationalization” which is simply business lingo for “screw them all.” It’s not a bankruptcy in the common sense of the word, it’s “restructuring.” The deck is shuffled and everyone is dealt a new hand. Miller gets a royal flush and workers get a chance to sell him their children for half price, and on a temporary basis.
Workers who went out on the SAP [Special Attrition Plan] get health insurance from GM but the rest of the retirees are expecting a boot to the backside. Bankrupt companies dump “human capital” like bad debt.
SAP or no SAP Delphi retirees have a pension from a bankrupt company. I told an attorney how Shoemaker said “It was understood” that GM would back the pension if Delphi reneged after October 2007 when the Benefit Guarantee expired. “Shoemaker gave me his word,” I said.
The attorney laughed. He didn’t charge me for the chuckle and the consultation ended.
At the Con Con (Constitutional Convention), Gettelfinger highlighted the UAW’s “success” at gaining a non-voting position on the creditor’s committee which endows us with as much status as a feminist in a burkah.
Judge Drain has made his position clear: incompetent frauds should be rewarded and honest labor should be penalized.
At the Con Con, Gettelfinger said, “Times are tough but the UAW is tougher.” What the hell is he talking about? Miller broke his balls. Mobilizing@Delphi, the bold banner of official union “resistance,” mobilized into Jell-O. On July 17 Gettelfinger told the press there may yet be a strike at Delphi. Who is he kidding? We’re training replacement workers with the Finger’s blessing. Miller is the dominant player in the auto industry today.
Miller showed everyone how easy it was to push over Gettelfinger. He got everything he wanted without a strike. Other corporations are encouraged by Miller’s success. Legal expenses are an investment, a small price to pay for such a large transfer of wealth. You can bet your paycheck more controlled “bankruptcies” will follow in Delphi’s wake.
The Concession Caucus won’t confront the fraud at GM-Delphi because they are up to their eyeballs in partnership with the crooks. The Concession Caucus would prefer we rot in the cellar of our despair rather than raise a hue and cry against the depravity of a union that sells out the next generation of workers. The Concession Caucus would prefer that Delphi retirees are forgotten, dispersed, and deterred from organizing because in a few years it’s quite likely they will lose everything they ever worked for.
All of Delphi’s current retirees were formerly GM employees and GM is responsible for Delphi’s demise. We never agreed to sign away our pensions to Delphi. Our retirement was hijacked. The UAW should organize a class action lawsuit against GM to reclaim our pension credits.
Don’t bank on it. The Double-Cross Caucus is more interested in protecting their preferred partner, GM, than protecting union members’ interests. We should take Miller’s advice as a warning: Don’t trust your leaders. Trust your coworkers.
The Concession Caucus stepped aside and let Miller bust the union at Delphi without a skirmish. Who’s next? The Concession Train is coming to your town, your workplace, your neighborhood. Concessions won’t save jobs or protect pensions. The policy of appeasement is the counsel of cowards. If we don’t build resistance now, the CC will sell out to the Big Three before the contract expires. They’ve already begun the concession campaign. The endgame is the destruction of the union. Two tier is a means to that end. Two tier is the death knell of the union.
Temporary status is an indignity to the whole union. As Rob Wilson said at our last SOS meeting in Flint, “There is no seniority date for dignity and justice.” Likewise there is no retirement from solidarity. Delphi executives don’t deserve bonuses but retirees deserve the accrued vested benefits they earned and new hires deserve equal rights.
Protest the deliberate bankrupting of America. Protest the decimation of our union. Send a message to Miller’s cronies: We are not giving up. We are not going away. Send a message to the Concession Caucus: We have a higher vision of what a union should be.
—Live Bait & Ammo # 80