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Organization

The Association of U S WEST Retirees (AUSWR) is an alliance of two  state telephone retiree organizations joined together for the purpose of protecting the welfare of all current and future U S West and Qwest retireesEach state organization is governed by a board of directors, elected by their members.

 

 

Although the two remaining state organizations are 501c(5) non-profit tax-exempt organizations, contributions to them are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.  Documents concerning the tax-exempt status of the state organizations are on file at their principal offices.

 

The AUSWR is a founding member of the National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN).  The NRLN www.nrln.org is a nonpartisan grassroots federation of retiree organizations working at the national level, lobbying Congress to protect and enhance retiree health and pensions benefits.

 
 

Mission

 

To preserve and protect those pensions and
benefits that we earned.
 

 

Officers

AUSWR Officers

 

History of Accomplishments

Association of US West Retirees

History of Accomplishments 

The purpose of the Association is to insure that all who retired from U S West (its predecessors and its successor) receive the benefits to which they are entitled.  A number of the Associations actions have led to improvements for those who retired from those companies.

1.      Obtained a legally enforceable health care guarantee for all who retired from U S West prior to 1991 and for a certain group who retired in 1992.  Those retirees are guaranteed (1) medical and dental coverage for life; (2) not to have to pay premiums for their company provided health care coverage; (3) to be reimbursed for the full amount of their Medicare Part B premiums regardless of the size of those premiums; (4) and to never be required to join an HMO or PPO.  For more details see “Plan Continuance” in the health care Summary Plan Descriptions. [1996 – Phelps v. U S West lawsuit]

2.      Forced U S West to return $8 million to the pension trust fund which the Association believed was improperly withdrawn by the company. [1998 - Unger v. U S West lawsuit]

3.   Established a network of volunteer retirees (one or more in each of the 14 states)  called  Retiree Advocates who help their fellow retirees resolve benefit problems.  The Advocate network was  established because, as the company transferred its benefit functions to outside contractors, alarming numbers of retirees complained to the Association about mistreatment or neglect.  The purpose of the Advocates is to insure that all U S West retirees receive the benefits to which they are entitled.  Disputes which cannot be resolved with the benefits contractors can be referred to an Advocate Ombudsman who may bypass the contractors if necessary and take the issues direct to Qwest’s human resources staff.  The Advocates have helped solve large numbers of retiree complaints. Of equal importance have been numerous changes made by Qwest and its contractors based on suggestions from the Advocates.  [2000]

4.   Persuaded Qwest to put on hold its plan to terminate the Sickness Death Benefit in 2003.  The Association has since filed suit in Denver Federal Court (Kerber v. Qwest) seeking a guarantee of the Death Benefit for all who retired before January 1, 2004 and are receiving a service or disability pension annuity. [2003]

5.   Persuaded Qwest to give pre-1984 retirees free Qwest long distance telephone service when the company stopped reimbursement of those retirees’ AT&T long distance charges. [2005]

6.   Negotiated an agreement with the company that has resulted in a one-time cash payment plus unlimited lifetime Qwest long distance telephone service for those retirees who lost their telephone      concession effective January 1, 2004 because their local telephone service was being provided by an “independent telephone company”. [2005 – Colvin v. Qwest lawsuit]

7.   The Association has actively supported several proposals, sponsored by Association members who own Qwest stock that have been voted on by Qwest shareowners at the company’s annual meetings.  The Association supported the proposals because it believed their adoption would benefit the company’s retirees.  It supported two shareowner proposals in 2001, two proposals in 2002, three in 2003, two in 2004, and two in 2005.  Several of the proposals have resulted in governance changes at the company. 

a.   In 2001, 2002 and 2003 the Association supported a proposal calling for shareowner approval of severance agreements with senior executives (commonly called “golden parachutes” or “golden handshakes”) that exceeded certain thresholds.  In 2001 and 2002 the Qwest Board of Directors opposed the proposal.  In 2003 the Board of Directors recommended a vote FOR the proposal, saying “We believe a policy like the one described in this proposal would in essence amount to a reasonable cap on severance agreements.  Our Compensation and Human Resources Committee will adopt this policy if it is approved at the annual meeting ...”  It was approved by the shareowners.

b.   Another proposal supported in 2001, 2002 and 2003 called for Qwest to stop including “pension credits” (which result from the profits of the pension fund) in the calculation of incentive compensation for executive officers.  The Qwest Board of Directors opposed the proposal in 2001 and 2002.  But in 2003 the Board of Directors recommended that shareowners vote for the proposal, and management said “Management agrees that at this time it is appropriate to exclude the effect of pension credits as a factor when measuring the performance of executive officers.  Our Compensation and Human Resources Committee will adopt this policy if it is approved . . .”  This proposal was also approved by the shareowners.

c.   In 2003 and 2004 the Association supported a proposal that called for a substantial majority of Qwest’s directors to be independent of the company and its management (e.g., not employed by, not have significant business ties to, nor close familial relationships).  Five months after the 2003 proposal was submitted Qwest adopted new guidelines concerning director qualifications.  Contrary to management’s assertion, the new qualification guidelines did not completely satisfy the objectives of the shareowner proposal, so the same shareowner proposal was submitted again in 2004.  Both years the proposal was opposed by Qwest’s Board.  However, in 2005 one of the Qwest directors targeted by this proposal left the Board.

d.   In 2005 the Association supported a proposal calling for Qwest to recalculate executive officer compensation for restated financial periods and take back any paid compensation that exceeded what would have been justified by the restated financials.  This proposal was an outgrowth of the Securities and Exchange Commissions discovery of what it has called massive financial fraud committed by Qwest in 1999 to 2002 and the company’s subsequent $2.5 billion restatement of earnings.  One month after this shareowner proposal was delivered to Qwest the company announced a new policy that requires its Board to review all bonuses and other performance-based compensation made during a period that is later restated, and take legal action to reclaim unwarranted compensation.  It said this new policy would be substantially implemented by the time of its 2005 annual meeting of shareowners.  Unlike the shareowner proposal, this new company policy does not apply to restatements done before the policy was approved.

 

 

 

 


 

 

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