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GM Reorganization Disappoints White-Collar Retirees

In the process of approving fast-track bankruptcy reorganization for General Motors, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court brushed aside the objections of a group representing GM's white-collar retirees.

"The court, in our opinion, did not do what was necessary to permit all parties to be treated fairly," said John Christie, a 36-year GM veteran who is president of the General Motors Retirees Association.

The association will appeal directly to Congress and to the Obama Administration to require GM to mitigate cuts to retiree benefits, and to at least phase in the cuts, instead of imposing them all at once.

The retiree association says that GM will cut some benefits two-thirds; eliminate dental, vision, and long-term disability coverage; and hike premiums, co-payments and deductibles for health care.

"These healthcare and other retiree benefits weren't given to us as some sort of gift. We retirees earned them through hard work and sacrifice," Christie said in prepared remarks for a June 25 hearing. The group said benefits for salaried retirees have already been reduced 28 times since 1993.

In the hearing, the group asked the court to appoint a committee that would look after the interests of white-collar retirees, but the court turned the group down.

On July 5, the court gave GM permission to sell its assets to a new GM entity, which is majority-owned by the U.S. Treasury Department.

"We thought the company to which we gave so much would meet its responsibilities to us in sickness and old age," Christie said.

"While the GMRA leadership will consider all the legal options available to us, we now look squarely to the Obama Administration and to the U.S. Congress to make certain there is a fair process and outcome for all GM retirees," he said.