WASHINGTON -- Chrysler LLCs 16,000 nonunion retirees and their spouses, who claim that their health benefits are in jeopardy, will get committee representation in bankruptcy court, a judge ruled today.
In the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, Judge Arthur Gonzalez, who is overseeing Chryslers proceedings, ordered the U.S. trustee to appoint the committee. Gonzalez did not comment on the merits of the retirees allegations.
The retirees -- who consist of clerical workers, engineers and management -- requested an appointment on the committee. They said Chrysler has excluded them from all negotiations.
Chrysler has a clear and immediate plan to eliminate nonunion retiree benefits while continuing such benefits for union members, the National Chrysler Retirement Organization said in a court filing yesterday.
Nonunion retirees are simply individuals living on fixed incomes who are particularly exposed to the devastation that will accompany the sudden loss of health care benefits, especially those affected retirees unfortunate enough to have pre-existing medical conditions, the group said.
Chrysler spokeswoman Lori McTavish did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A hearing has been scheduled for May 14.