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Former Chrysler workers sue former Chrysler owners

by Bill Cawthon on

More than 450 Chrysler retirees have filed a class action suit in the Wayne County (Michigan) Circuit Court against Daimler AG and Cerberus Capital Management LLC over the loss of supplemental pension benefits during the automaker’s 2009 bankruptcy.

The pensions, covering workers and managers, were set up under a private program and so were not covered by the government’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. and did not transfer to the new Chrysler Group LLC. According to suit, the benefits were guaranteed by Chrysler’s previous owners and the plaintiffs want to recover at least a percentage of what they were promised.

In a press release, Sheldon L. Miller of Farmington Hills, one of the lead attorneys in the case, said, “The Chrysler bankruptcy was devastating to virtually everyone involved. Many of the men and women participating in this lawsuit worked their entire lives at the company under the repeated promise that these pensions would be there and intact for their retirement years. The direct financial loss, in combination with the serious reduction in medical, health care and auto benefits resulting from the bankruptcy, is causing them to make drastic changes to their retirement plans at a time when they can’t go out and find other jobs to supplement their incomes. These are good, hard working people who are being severely punished through absolutely no fault of their own.”

Miller said there are no plans for any action against the new Chrysler. “Everybody involved in this suit loves that company and like everybody else wants to see it succeed. The plaintiffs in our case are trying to assure that there won’t be similar hardships for Chrysler’s current employees, many of whom worked for and with the people involved in this suit. Nobody wants to hurt them or the new company’s chances for success.”

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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