The president of the GM Retirees Association, Jim Shepherd, sent a scathing letter last week to GM CEO, Dan Akerson. The letter was in response to General Motors’ decision to modify pension plans for non-union retirees. Mr. Shepherd stated that the non-union retirees wanted to express their “absolute consternation and disgust” and described the move by GM as not being only unfair but, “it is sheer irresponsibility and greed.”
So, on behalf of its many members, I now welcome the GM non-union retirees to the “Hosed by Government Motors Club.” As I mentioned when I welcomed Canadian taxpayers to the club, members of the club include former GM shareholders and bondholders, widows and other accident and asbestos litigants, owners of “Old” GM vehicles who did not have their vehicles’ problems covered by “New” GM, Indian tribes and others who have had their lands polluted by Old GM, Delphi non-union retirees, non-union workers at shuttered GM dealerships and the American taxpayers. The club does not include politically-favored US unionized labor or legal firms enriched by the GM bankruptcy process which were awarded DOE contracts worth million of dollars in addition to the millions they already made in the GM bankruptcy.
The list of groups and individuals who have been treated unfairly and inequitably by Government Motors continues to grow as those without political clout sacrifice to protect the interests of cronies and those friendly to the regime running the show. The ugly display of favoritism as inspired by the American President and executed by both his Auto Task Force and his appointed management at GM has seen UAW jobs protected while non-union jobs at shuttered dealerships were axed. Unsecured creditors without political connections, like the GM bondholders, received a fraction of what the politically-connected UAW (which was legally equal in standing) received in the GM bankruptcy process. GM saved the pensions of UAW retirees at Delphi while pensions of non-union retirees were cut. And now, current GM non-union retirees are forced to sacrifice whileUAW pension obligations continue to grow and threaten the financial health of a company that American taxpayers paid tens of billions of dollars to save.
Mr. Shepherd states in his letter that “GM’s retirees do not deserve this kind of treatment.” As Clint Eastwood said in his movie, Unforgiven, “deserving’s got nothing to do with it.” What does have something to do with it is blatant cronyism and political payback. As GM is about to pull the trigger on yet another victim, Shepherd pleads, “Please prove that GM management is not morally or ethically bankrupt.” Sorry Mr. Shepherd, it seems that your request is a bit late as the moral and ethical bankruptcy at GM has already transpired. Just ask fellow club members and those now boycotting GM.
Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow.