Non-union, salaried workers shafted in U.S. deal with GM

The Delphi Corp. workers who worked for decades for GM have been segregated — some represented (union workers) and some non-represented (salaried worker-engineers, accountants and clerks). The task force and Treasury decided that the union workers’ healthcare and pensions would be saved, but not the salaried workers’.

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Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) stated Delphi salaried workers got a raw deal and asked the GM head to reverse the decision to exclude them from the pension deal and to treat them equitably. Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) has led an effort to get a bipartisan group of 46 congressional members to jointly request a hearing to understand this issue, and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) agreed to hold a hearing. To date President Obama, Secretary Geithner, Mr. Bloom and GM CEO Fritz Henderson have not responded to any requests or objections regarding the unfair treatment of this non-represented class of worker.

New York

From Den Black, interim president, Delphi Salaried Retirees Association

In the process of the GM “deal,” over 15,000 salaried retirees of GM’s spun-off components and systems unit — Delphi Corp. — were thrown under the bus. While the auto recovery task force, GM, and Delphi agreed to default the pension plans for all classes of Delphi employees to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC), only the pensions for GM-Delphi salaried retirees were singled out for discrimination.

While Delphi retirees represented by the United Auto Workers union and the International Union of Electrical Workers-Communications Workers of America will have their pensions topped off to the levels they would have received directly from GM-Delphi, GM-Delphi salaried retirees will receive very significantly reduced pensions under PBGC limits set by Congress.

Mr. President and members of Congress, now is the time for you to stand in the shoes of GM-Delphi salaried retirees, against whom fortune has turned, largely at the hand of our government — the auto task force.

Carmel, Ind.

What Obama should’ve said about health reform

From Robert L. Weinmann, M.D.

While Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-S.C.) breach of protocol during President Obama’s address to Congress was unfortunate, it is not as unfortunate as the president’s missed opportunity to discuss H.R. 3200 in some semblance of detail.

The president mentioned bogus assertions about pulling the plug on Grandma. Didn’t he say, “It is a lie, plain and simple”? He could have said that the issue is addressed on pages 424 and 425 of H.R. 3200.

There is no discussion of euthanasia or pulling anyone’s plug. On the other hand, had he said this, he might have been obliged to admit that H.R. 3200 does not mention discussing the issue with one’s physician, nurse or hospice. The word that appears in the bill is “practitioner.” This vague word opens the door to mischief later when rules and regulations are written. Is it intended to create bureaucracy to decide who qualifies as a “practitioner” — perhaps the next-door neighbor?

Millions of citizens want to know why the president wants coverage broad enough to cover the country but not broad enough to cover members of Congress and their own families. Page 114 of H.R. 3200 exempts members of Congress from the public plan. Had the president spoken up on the subject, he might have had to disclose that members of Congress enjoy benefits that are not available to most citizens — for example, a Capitol doctor, a nursing office on site, treatment at military hospitals.

On illegal immigrant coverage, the president could have referred to page 143, which says that federal payments on behalf of individuals not lawfully present in the U.S. won’t be made. On the other hand, is that what we really want? If an illegal immigrant turns up in an emergency room with a contagious disease, is it in the community interest to return such a person to the community without treatment?

The trouble is that H.R. 3200 abounds in such clauses as “except as otherwise explicitly permitted in this Act.” No wonder anyone who listens to any of our healthcare orators remains in perpetual befuddlement!

Finally, how about so-called rationing? Didn’t the president say, “I will ensure that no government bureaucrat gets between you and the care you need”? How does that statement mesh with page 30, which announces a “private-public advisory committee” that will “recommend” what treatment we should provide and get? In other words, are “Utilization Review” and so-called “Independent Medical Review” committees going to dictate to our doctors what they can and do, and dictate to our patients (except Congress) what they can expect for treatment?

San Jose, Calif.