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Delphi retirees unite to guard benefits

Retired salaried workers from Delphi Corp. are banding together to resist the company's effort to eliminate their benefits in court.

The Delphi Salaried Retiree Association was formed after the auto parts supplier this month asked a bankruptcy court judge to grant permission to terminate health care and life insurance benefits for current and future retired salaried workers as soon as April 1. A hearing is set for Feb. 24.

Delphi has about 15,000 salaried retirees, including some from the company's plant in Lockport.

The Indiana-based retirees group, which says it is also representing their spouses, survivors and dependents, was organized swiftly. More than 1,600 retirees have joined in the week or so since it was formed, and the group has hired a San Francisco-based law firm. It has filed a formal objection in bankruptcy court asked for the right to set up a salaried retirees committee to participate in the case.

"It is clear that Delphi is attempting to hijack the retirees by robbing them of benefits that were earned over decades and promised at the time of retirement," said Den Black, a coordinator of the group, in a statement.

One of the group's interim members at large is Jim Frost, formerly site manager for the Lockport facility.

Delphi says eliminating salaried retirees' benefits would save the company about $70 million a year and eliminate as much as $1.1 billion in liabilities from its balance sheet.

e-mail: mglynn@buffnews.com

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