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Johnson: Delphi’s White Collar Workers: Collateral Damage for the Auto Bailout?
CNBC.com | March 06, 2012 | 11:47 AM EST

President Obama rightfully assumes credit for the auto industry bailout, a political victory that saved 1.5 million jobs and likely prevented another depression. Unfortunately, over 20,000 non-union salaried Delphi workers were left behind, their pensions sacrificed at the altar of forgiveness.

Injustice is rarely assembled in an instant; this did not happen overnight. Delphi was spun off from GM in 1999, and unable to function without its main parts supplier, agreed with the unions to “top off” the hourly workers’ pensions should Delphi ever file for bankruptcy, making them whole for any future shortfall.

The salaried, or white collared workers, were not afforded such luxuries, a striking development when Delphi filed for bankruptcy in 2005 and all but stopped making contributions to the pension plan. As the company accelerated layoffs, benefits were paid out earlier than actuarially expected and exacerbated the pension deficit.

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