Page last updated at 13:21 GMT, Monday, 1 June 2009 14:21 UK

GM pensioner's fears for the future


In what is now an industrial wasteland, Randy Sandusky remembers a factory that once bustled with life.

Not anymore. The General Motors plant where he used to work in Detroit closed for good in the eighties. All that remains is an overgrown field surrounded by a chain link fence.

After more than thirty years spent working for the car company, he has experienced his fair share of ups and downs but the bankruptcy of this once mighty American industrial giant is beyond anything he could have imagined.

"I never thought I would see this in my lifetime. I didn’t ever think General Motors would ever go bankrupt."

Now this 53-year-old retiree is worried about what the future holds, especially since he relies on GM for his pension and his health insurance.

And he is not alone. Randy works at the union hall for UAW Local 22 in Detroit, helping other retirees to understand the benefit plans after the last restructuring programme. That was before the latest changes.

Last week it was standing room only when they met to vote in favour of a deal that includes concessions by workers and changes to a health care fund for retirees. A move that helped pave the way for GM to go to bankruptcy court.

"It was a bitter pill but we swallowed it", he said. "The worst part of all is not so much the pay itself but the health care, the loss of your health care."

Around 400,000 retirees in the United States rely on GM for health insurance.

After all his years of service, Randy’s dream of a secure financial retirement is slipping away. In his fifties, he is considering returning to work while his wife may have to stay on at her job for more years than she had planned.

A job in the auto industry was once considered to be a route to prosperity. These days Randy is glad his children did not follow him into the business.


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