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Delphi retirees hopeful they'll get their pensions after fighting for more than a decade

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Warren resident Bruce Gump worked as an engineer at Delphi for more than 30 years. So, when he retired in 2009, he thought he'd be able to get the pension, health care and life insurance that was owed to him. But he didn't plan on the auto component company filing for bankruptcy as a result of the Great Recession.

"All of a sudden, the bottom fell out. The government intervened. There were choices made that left the salaried group out while the hourly workers were well taken care of for their pensions. And we felt that was wrong," Gump said.

Gump is one of 20,000 salaried Delphi workers, including 5,000, who lost up to 70% of their pensions. Since that time, Gump, who serves as the chairman of the Delphi Salaried Retirees Association, has been working with members of Congress to be made whole.

It appears that effort is paying off.

Congress is set to approve the Susan Muffley Act, which is bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would restore those pension funds for salaried Delphi employees. The legislation is named after a Delphi retiree who died after putting off medical care she needed because she was cash-strapped as a result of losing her pension.

"Retired Delphi salaried workers lost the retirement they earned, after their company went bankrupt during the Great Recession - a time when Washington bailed out Wall Street, but left too many Americans on their own," Ohio Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said.

The legislation, which is expected to pass the U.S. House Wednesday, is supported by President Biden. It's also supported by many Republicans including Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who is a co-sponsor of the bill in the Senate.

Once the House passes the plan, Brown said he will go to the floor of the Senate to try to pass on unanimous consent and if there are no objections, it can go straight to President Biden. But Brown knows there's a chance there will be objections since some lawmakers on Capitol Hill have a philosophical belief that government should not involve itself in things like this. But Brown said he sees the situation through the eyes of workers.

"Government didn't mind stepping up on the auto bailout, didn't mind stepping up to protect the banks and the companies themselves, but so often not the workers and retirees so to me, this is just fair play," Brown said.

Brown said if government is going to give big tax cuts to corporations and bailing out banks, it ought to keep these workers and retirees afloat too.
Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.