Feb 20, 2012
In a low key manner, General Motors just announced the elimination of guaranteed pensions for 19,000 salaried employees who were hired before 2001. Beginning in October 2012, GM will freeze salaried pension contributions and will switch employees to a 401(k)-type plan.
This attack on salaried workers’ pensions will be the new battering ram for bringing under attack the guaranteed pensions of union auto workers and all who still have traditional pensions.
As the saying goes, it’s deja vu all over again. GM salaried employees were among the first to lose retiree healthcare.
Back in 1996, GM made a similar move by tearing up its written promise to salaried workers of retiree healthcare for life. Lawsuits were filed and court cases went on for over a decade. Ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that as long as GM buried a sentence about the right to terminate the retiree medical plan in its thousands of pages of welfare plan documents, then written guarantees in the summary plan documents were meaningless.
Any auto worker and every worker who still has a guaranteed pension is viewing the opening shot in a war. As in any war, when you are attacked, you must resist.
Anyone who thinks they can keep their guaranteed pension plan without fighting back might just as well be wearing pajamas – because frankly, you are dreaming!