Salaried GM Retirees Request Bankruptcy Court Voice

June 8, 2009 ( - With a reduction in some retiree benefits by about two-thirds a possibility, a group of retired General Motors salaried employees has asked to be granted a say in the auto giant's restructuring.

A Detroit Free Press story said the retiree group has asked a bankruptcy judge to appoint an official panel to represent their interests as GM reorganizes its business. “The unfairness of hourly retirees keeping their benefits and even getting a stake in New GM to fund their health benefit trust, while salaried retirees receive no protections, also cries out for the need for salaried retiree representation,” the group’s court filing said, according to the newspaper.

itxtvisited=”1″> The company has toldnon-United Auto Worker (UAW) retirees that the company is talking to government officials about reducing some retiree benefits by roughly two-thirds.

itxtvisited=”1″>”This reduction will impact salaried retiree life insurance, salaried retiree health care, executive non-qualified pension, executive retiree life insurance and non-UAW hourly life insurance and we are still working on how to accomplish this in the most appropriate way,” GM told retirees this week, according to the Free Press. “It is our intent to address this matter as quickly as we can,” the company added.

itxtvisited=”1″> Tom Wilkinson, a GM spokesman, told the newspaper the effort does not involve the company’s qualified pension plans.

itxtvisited=”1″> GM has about 116,000 retired salaried workers and surviving spouses, he said. A motion filed on behalf of the GM Retirees Association called the benefits “almost irreplaceable.”

itxtvisited=”1″> The company is also making changes to UAW retiree health care benefits. According to a recent UAW summary of contract changes, that will include the elimination of dental and vision programs.

itxtvisited=”1″> The Free Press said health coverage for hourly retirees are to be paid for through a trust that GM and the UAW agreed to in 2007 that now will be funded with the trust receiving a 17.5% stake in a reconstituted GM (see GM Retirees to Get Health Coverage from VEBA ).