President Trump could intervene in a decade-long fight by a group of more than 20,000 former Delphi employees in Ohio to regain their full pensions after the auto parts makers’ bankruptcy, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday.
The Delphi retirees lost expected pension benefits when Delphi, formerly part of General Motors, gave up responsibility for the payments during bankruptcy proceedings in the mid-2000s. General Motors paid a portion of the pension plans until its bankruptcy in 2009 prompted the Obama administration to implement a taxpayer-funded bailout.
“During the President’s visit to Ohio, I urged the President to restore the Delphi Salaried Retirees’ pensions,” said DeWine. “The President was receptive to our message of the plight of these Retirees. I urge him to move forward to aid these Retirees and their pensions.”
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, a government agency, assumed Delphi’s pension obligations after the bailout, but pays less than the retirees were originally slated to receive. The group sued to restore full benefits, arguing the Obama administration’s bailout plan failed to address their needs.
White House economic adviser Peter Navarro confirmed the Trump administration is considering action.
“The Obama-Biden non-solution to the GM bankruptcy was to help offshore Delphi operations to Mexico and China while stripping the pensions from Delphi’s hardworking Salaried Retirees,” Navarro said in a statement. “We are looking at every legal option available to remedy this Obama-Biden betrayal. This issue has the President’s attention.”
PBGC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Former Vice President Joe Biden addressed the fight over Delphi pensions during a trip to Ohio in 2012. At the time, he said that PBGC was an “independent agency” outside of the Obama administration’s control.
"We can't direct [PBGC] to make good on all of the pensions,” Biden said. “We were able to protect the hourly workers. Some salaried workers got hurt, particularly the younger ones."
Earlier this month, an appeals court confirmed a 2019 ruling that found PGBC did not violate any laws in its handling of the pensions.