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May, 2006

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Is It Safe to Retire?

Last year GM stated that its hourly pension plan was under funded by $10.6 billion dollars. The Federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. said it was $31 billion, and that's a big difference. Why isn't the UAW more forthcoming about our pension fund? This isn't the first problem we've had. In 1992, Buick City Local President Dave Yettaw warned that the pension plan was grossly under funded. Other union officials denied it, but later the newspapers proclaimed that the fund was short by $17 billion. GM took care of the problem but sustained a record loss that year. Will GM do the same this time or seek concessions to reduce retirement benefits instead? Is our union vigilant enough to protect our future benefits? Many of us have worked for years looking forward to that final payoff, a comfortable retirement. Will we enjoy that retirement or get a surprise instead?

Over the last two decades GM and Delphi have closed 110 plants. The UAW did not fight these closings; instead it bargained buyouts, transfers and early retirements for the affected workers. GM reduced labor cost, but in the retirees for every active worker. To complicate matters, half of our remaining work force is eligible to retire. Apparently GM and the UAW didn't plan for a time when retirees would outnumber workers.

We live in uncertain times. Since 1979 we have lost approximately 75% of our UAW membership at GM. Morale is bad and GM is floundering in the market place. In uncertain times we need straight answers from our leaders.

- Excerpts from a draft flyer by a UAW member

This article originated in the People's Tribune
PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 773-486-3551, info@peoplestribune.org.
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