Who will protect your pension during the next downturn if the NCRO ceases to exist?

Do these recent headlines about Chrysler sound familiar?

FCA’s Chrysler Group Faces Product Drought Through 2016 (Reuters, July 29, 2015)

Record Fine for Fiat Chrysler (The Wall Street Journal, July 27, 2015)

Gov’t:  Fiat Chrysler Must Offer to Buy Back 500,000 Pickups (Associated Press, July 26, 2015) 

Fiat Chrysler to Recall More Than 1.6 Million Vehicles in US (Associated Press, July 25, 2015)

Jeep’s Manley says Grand Cherokee redesign pushed to 2018 or 2019 (Automotive News, June 26, 2015)

6 reasons to take talk of an FCA-GM deal seriously (Detroit Free Press, June 18, 2015) 

‘Do or die’ time as FCA’s Brampton plant awaits investment (Automotive News, June 15, 2015)  

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sees Consolidation Urgency in Car Industry (Bloomberg Business, June 8, 2015)  

Fiat, Cerberus, Daimler, Tracinda – the names were different, but the circumstances were much the same:  Chrysler’s vulnerability as the smallest of the Detroit Three has meant that its independence has had to be sacrificed in order to obtain the necessary investment to remain a viable volume competitor in the face of international industry consolidation.

And that consolidation will continue.  FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne openly states that this is the only way that our former employer can survive.  He has even released a PowerPoint presentation entitled “Confessions of a Capital Junkie” that anyone can see which lays bare his stark prescription for survival.

This latest round of merger speculation swirls in the background as FCA has also been slammed with major product recall actions and related unprecedented fines from the U.S. Government.

What does this mean for us as Chrysler salaried retirees?  History is really only of value if we can learn from it.  During the Chrysler bankruptcy negotiations in 2009, representatives of the National Chrysler Retirement Organization (NCRO) fought for a seat at the table for salaried retirees, and as a result, we continue to receive our Chrysler pensions today.  This is a fight that we may have to make again as the future of the former Chrysler is considered.  To do that, we need your help, now.  Renew your membership in the NCRO today.

It is true that each month in 2015 to date has brought many sales records – for the company as well as for some of its brands like Jeep and Ram and individual nameplates like Jeep Cherokee, Ram pickup and Chrysler 200, depending on the month.  But we all have lived through the cyclical downturns and know all too well what happens when vehicle lines starved of new investment face a reduced market.  So we must be supportive – and vigilant.  Supportive by continuing to promote, use and buy FCA products.  Vigilant by being active members of the NCRO to help make sure that our pensions do not become poker chips or slush funds as FCA management courts prospective partners.

This vigilance part is real.  It can hinge on being in the right place at the right time, to know who the right person is to see and to ask the right question.  But for the alert involvement of NCRO founding members like the late Mike Kane and others with President Obama’s Auto Task Force, our pensions today would be coming from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) – and they would be a fraction of what they are currently.

In discussions with Chrysler senior management, the NCRO has fought for the interests of Chrysler salaried retirees on a full range of issues.

  • Lease cars for salaried retirees through Company Cars were reinstated as a result of NCRO efforts.
  • The financial soundness of all Chrysler salaried retiree pension plans is closely monitored, discussed with FCA management, and shared with NCRO members.
  • The pre-age 65 health care package is reviewed by FCA with the NCRO before its release to retirees.
  • The NCRO brought attention to the diminished value of HRA payments and requested that FCA increase the payments.
  • FCA and NCRO representatives routinely discuss documents that will impact retirees before they are released.

NCRO fights for Chrysler salaried retirees in Auburn Hills, and in Washington as well.

  • The NCRO visits key members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives three times a year to discuss legislation affecting salaried retirees.
  • The NCRO, through its partnership with the National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN), supports income security and health care bills important to seniors.
  • The NCRO, with the NRLN, meets regularly with the PBGC and the U.S. Department of Labor to discuss important pension-related matters.

And NCRO remains an important day-to-day resource for the benefit of all Chrysler retirees and their families.

  • Twice annually, the NCRO holds acclaimed informational seminars on what should be done as retirees approach Social Security (62) and Medicare (65).
  • The NCRO routinely intervenes with Benefits Express on behalf of retirees having significant difficulties in resolving benefit problems.
  • Quarterly breakfast meetings, held in Michigan but available to all members through a simulcast webinar, update the NCRO on FCA corporate developments, Chrysler history, and other matters of interest to seniors.

The National Chrysler Retirement Organization is unique in the industry.  Nearly 7,000 members strong, it is the largest organization of its kind.  Similar retirement groups from GM, Ford, Visteon and Delphi have been much smaller, more social in emphasis, or were formed too late to have significant impact.  Members from all of these other organizations have told us that they wish they would have had an NCRO working for them.

Ask yourself this important question:  Who will protect your pension during the next downturn if the NCRO ceases to exist?

Join with us to build a strong, active, involved, and vigilant National Chrysler Retirement Organization that will keep working for you.




Jay Kuhnie