Kokomo — A group of then-Delphi Corp. retirees saw a long road ahead of them when they banded in 2009 to keep hold of their full pensions and benefits.
“In general, I’m pretty happy with the fact that our people have not lost heart,” said Paul Dobosz, who retired from Delphi Electronics & Safety in Kokomo. “We’ve had some pretty good successes. We knew this was not going to be a short-term battle.”
At age 61, Dobosz was one of thousands of the Troy, Mich.-based automotive supplier’s employees who opted for early retirement as the company underwent bankruptcy and restructuring that lasted from 2005 to 2009.
During the four years, Delphi’s pensions for unionized hourly workers moved to the auto supplier’s former parent company, General Motors, which was undergoing its own restructuring.
At GM, hourly employees received “top ups” to full funding for their pensions as part of their union agreements.
Delphi held onto salaried employees’ pensions until 2009, when the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. took over the plans.
The salaried Delphi employees lost between 30 percent and 70 percent of their pensions as a result, as well as their insurance.
Dobosz, a Noblesville resident who now runs a consulting business, received a letter in February 2009 telling him he would lose his insurance benefits. He and other Delphi retirees from Indiana throughout the U.S. formed the DSRA that year and filed a federal lawsuit to reclaim the pensions.
“We have nothing against [United Auto Workers],” said DSRA Chairman Den Black. “They earned their pensions, and they’re getting it. We earned our pensions, and we’re fighting for it.”
It has been a two-arena legal dispute: in the courts and in government.
DSRA members have received support from federal legislators.
“It’s a very lengthy list, on both sides of the aisle for that matter, Democrats and Republicans, who have, in one fashion or another, made efforts to provide support for getting justice,” Black said.