Although the National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN) played a major role in founding the Delphi Salaried Retirees Association in 2009, DSRA never officially joined as a dues-paying association of the NRLN. Instead, the DSRA board had good reason to use its’ financial resources to litigate for the restoration of its pension plan. NRLN’s by-laws restrict it to fixing the inadequacy of federal statutes so that companies and courts can’t take back retiree benefits.
Developing Bankruptcy Reform, Mergers and Acquisitions protection, and new ERISA rules affecting PBGC responsibility for protecting retirees along with tireless lobbying for these NRLN proposals for statue changes is a complex and lengthy process for the NRLN just as DSRA’s long, expensive legal pursuit has been. Nevertheless, DSRA and NRLN will fight both fights until there is nothing left to do. The NRLN continues to lobby to get the job done for NRLN Associations and all retirees because we know if the law doesn’t change, we can expect more benefit losses and litigation.
Every year the NRLN has helped the remaining under-age 65 DSRA and other NRLN association retirees affected by bankruptcy related benefit terminations by annually lobbying to extend HCTC benefits. Also, now they are in a major push to get Congress to protect and preserve Medicare and Social Security benefits, to lower the cost of prescription drugs and to improve breast cancer early detection.
More importantly, for DSRA members, the NRLN has stepped up to fund and submit an Amicus brief, also known as “a friend of the court brief,” on behalf of DSRA retirees. It was submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court on November 3rd. Attorney Michael Calabrese, the NRLN’s legislative strangest, wrote the brief stating the termination of the Delphi Salaried pension plan at the direction of U.S. Treasury during its management of the bankruptcy followed an illegal process.
The opening sentences of the Summary Argument stated: “The petition should be granted because this case raises important questions about the role of federal courts with respect to the distress terminations of corporate pension plans that result in the permanent loss of vested pension benefits by thousands of retirees and other plan participants each year. Retirees and other plan participants typically receive no notice or opportunity to contest the necessity for, or the timing of, a distress termination that results from an agreement between the PBGC [Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation] and the plan sponsor.”
The 12-page brief cited precedents set by court cases to support the Delphi Salaried Retirees contention they had no representation in the negotiations that skirted legal protections normally available to pensioners.
The conclusion paragraph succinctly stated: “For these reasons and those set forth in the petition, National Retiree Legislative Network respectfully submits that the petition should be granted.”
DSRA has expressed its appreciation to the NRLN and to its DSRA members for the NRLN’s effort to support the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. We wish DSRA success in gaining the Justices acceptance to hear their case as the first step toward a decision that would restore their pensions.
Remember, Seniors Are Special!
Bill Kadereit, President
National Retiree Legislative Network