NCRO Pres. Kuhnie sends letter to Pres. Obama

August 14, 2011
Jay Kuhnie
6001 N. Adams Rd.
Suite 205
Bloomfield Twp., MI. 48304

Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The National Chrysler Retirement Organization (NCRO), made up of nearly 7000 salaried, non-union Chrysler retirees in the United States, join with you in celebrating the return of Chrysler to financial viability and express our deep appreciation for the critical leadership that your administration provided when it was most needed to keep Chrysler alive. Your June 3rd appearance at the Chrysler Group LLC Supplier Park plant in Toledo, Ohio was a momentous occasion for the extended family of Chrysler employees, suppliers, dealers, and retirees.

We also commend your recent appointment of David Blitzstein as a member of the Advisory Committee of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). With his strong record of oversight on behalf of food industry workers, we are confident that Mr. Blitzstein will be a staunch advocate for the protection of workers’ pension benefits.

As new appointments are considered for similar PBGC policy positions, we would strongly encourage the selection of similarly qualified individuals who can add substantive knowledge and awareness of the precarious position in which many non-union retirees in the United States exist today. Non-union workers make up 92% of the workforce and should have specific representation on the PBGC Advisory Committee. The continuing economic downturn has accelerated the trend to push many white-collar middle management employees – creative workers like engineers, designers, researchers, plant managers, marketing and sales people and others – into an early retirement with reduced income and medical care benefits (even as their obligations for care of family members remain the same or increase), at a time of reduced private sector hiring. We believe that protection of the pensions and benefits earned by these non-union workers, as well as for hourly represented workers, is a vital part of what PBGC Director Joshua Gotbaum calls “the enhancement of retirement security.” And a greater measure of financial security for retired non-union employees should be seen as yet another component of our nation’s economic recovery.

We are grateful for your support of our company and our industry. We also hope that the concerns of millions of salaried retirees and their families across the United States will be considered as your administration works to protect pension benefits, not just for retirees but for the workers of today and tomorrow.

On an additional related issue, the NCRO has grave concern for your administration’s plan to give the PBGC the ability to set the premiums that retirement plan sponsors pay. We believe this action along with allowing rates to be based on the credit risk of plan sponsors will be detrimental to both the long term viability of the plans and to the retirees covered by these plans. And it will not fix the issues facing the PBGC. We prefer to continue to have Congress set the premiums.

To affect the needed improvement in the PBGC, we agree with the statement made by the GAO in its December report; the PBGC is “in need of urgent attention and transformation to address economy, efficiency or effectiveness.” To start, the PBGC needs to change the way it values assets and liabilities using much more reasonable and relevant interest rates. This would greatly reduce the stated deficit and reflect a more realistic situation. We urge you and your administration to address this matter instead of letting the “fox guard the hen house“ by letting the PBGC set its premiums.

We would welcome an opportunity to review this situation and our other concerns with the overall operation of the PBGC with you and/or your designated representative at your convenience.

Jay Kuhnie

David Blitzstein – Advisory Committee, PBGC
Timothy Geithner – US Secretary of the Treasury
Joshua Gotbaum – Director, PBGC
Senator Carl Levin
Senator Debbie Stabenow


About NCRO

Protect pensions and other retiree benefits, Do our part to keep Chrysler LLC viable and strong, Inform, Educate and Communicate, Support American workers, jobs and products, Build camaraderie and fellowship
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