Congressman Dan Kildee, Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus, today introduced the Susan Muffley Act, new bipartisan legislation to restore retirement benefits to over 20,000 Delphi Salaried Retirees.
When General Motors (GM) filed for bankruptcy during the Great Recession, the U.S. Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) unfairly cut retirement benefits by as much as 70% for more than 20,000 Delphi Salaried Retirees, including more than 5,000 retirees in Michigan. The PBGC assumed responsibility for the terminated benefits but could not pay an individual more than a statutory maximum benefit. Therefore, salaried retirees suffered significant losses to their benefits, with devastating impacts on many lives.
Congressman Kildee's legislation--supported by Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate--would restore the terminated pensions, making these hardworking retirees whole. This bill would make up the difference between the pension benefits earned by Delphi Salaried Retirees and what they received following the GM bankruptcy in 2009. This means beneficiaries who have already begun receiving benefits will receive a lump sum payment of the difference between what was actually paid by PBGC and would have been paid without the limitations, plus 6% interest. Retirees may pay incomes taxes on this lump sum over three years to ease the tax burden. All beneficiaries will receive their full earned benefit amount moving forward.
Reps. Tim Ryan (OH-13), Michael Turner (OH-10), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Bill Johnson (OH-06), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Warren Davidson (OH-08) and Gwen Moore (WI-04) are also cosponsors of Congressman Kildee's legislation in the House. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH) will introduce in the Senate.
"If you work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to retire with dignity," said Congressman Kildee. "The government rescued GM but left these workers hanging. That's why what happened to the Delphi Salaried Retirees is such an injustice. These hardworking retirees have waited too long to receive the benefits they earned, and I am proud to introduce legislation today to finally deliver."
For over a decade, the Delphi Salaried Retirees have been fighting to restore their benefits. In September 2009, the Delphi Salaried Retirees Association (DSRA) filed a lawsuit against the PBGC to restore their pension benefits. After losing decisions at lower courts, the DSRA petitioned to take their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court recently denied this request, congressional action is the only option for restoring their pensions.
The legislation is named after Susan Muffley who was part of the DSRA's core leadership in the effort to restore their pensions. Her husband, David, worked at Delphi as an electronics technician for 31 years, but lost the full value of his pension in 2009. Despite health problems, Susan avoided seeing her doctor given her family's financial constraints due to losing their pension. She was ultimately diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away on August 9, 2012.
"After years of work by workers and retirees Ohio and Michigan, it's past time to restore the full benefits of the Delphi Salaried Retirees," said Senator Brown. "I'll keep working with members of both parties and the White House to get results for these retirees."
"Michiganders who have worked hard their entire lives and played by the rules deserve the benefits they earned," said Senator Peters. "To deny workers the ability to retire with dignity after a committed career, is entirely unacceptable. I'm proud to support this legislation that will restore the benefits that thousands of Michiganders were promised."
"I am pleased to introduce bipartisan, bicameral legislation with Senator Brown to reinstate the Delphi Salaried Pension Plan so that these retirees can finally receive the benefits they worked so hard to earn," said Senator Portman. "In 2009, the Delphi Salaried Pension Plan was terminated, leaving the long-term financial security of the nearly 20,000 salaried employees at Delphi in jeopardy. It is time to correct this unfair action."
"I've been working tirelessly for over a decade to restore the pensions of the Delphi retirees, and now with this bipartisan legislation we will finally provide them with the retirement benefits that they have always deserved," said Congressman Ryan. "The favorable resolution that this legislation provides has been too long in the making, and I encourage my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to join us in support. It is the right thing to do."
"The Delphi Salaried Retirees were robbed of their hard-earned benefits when the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation terminated their pension plans in 2009," said Congressman Turner. "Today, we stand united in demanding moral and legal justice for the thousands of retirees who have yet to see some or all of their pensions. Congress must pass the Susan Muffley Act so we can finally repay these men and women what they are rightfully owed."
"We are grateful to Representatives Dan Kildee, Tim Ryan, Mike Turner, Marcy Kaptur and Bill Johnson, Debbie Dingell and Warren Davidson and also to Senators Sherrod Brown, Debbie Stabenow, Gary Peters and Rob Portman and all those elected officials who stand up for fair and equitable treatment for all American workers. If it passes, this bill will restore fairness and dignity in retirement. It will relieve the suffering of thousands of salaried and hourly workers who were left behind after GM filed for bankruptcy. It will greatly help their families and their communities also. This is very important and necessary legislation. Thank you to all those who are working to help pass this bill," said Bruce Gump, Chair of the Delphi Salaried Retiree Association.
There are over 20,000 affected Delphi retirees across the country, including:
New York: 2,337
North Carolina: 156
South Carolina: 147
Other States: 672
For years, Congressman Kildee has led the fight in Congress to restore pensions for Delphi Salaried Retirees, working across the aisle and pressing administration officials from both parties to do the right thing and make the Delphi Salaried Retirees pensions whole. Congressman Kildee, along with Congressman Ryan and Congressman Turner, formed the Congressional Task Force on Delphi Pensions in 2013 to help these hardworking retirees get the earned benefits they deserve. In November 2021, Congressman Kildee signed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Delphi Salaried Retirees as they fight to restore their pensions.