Retiree Shareholder Proposals Fall Short

May 3, 2001 ( - Retiree activists came up short on two shareholder proposals at Qwest Communications that would have impacted executive compensation arrangements at the company.

The shareholder proposals, sponsored by the Association of US West Retirees, were defeated at Qwest’s annual meeting this week. Qwest acquired US West on June 30.

Short Falls

One proposal called for shareholder approval of severance agreements with executives, receiving just 25% of the vote.

A second proposal wanted to block the inclusion of the plan’s pension surplus in calculating performance-based compensation for executives. The proposal called the inclusion of “accounting rule income,” particularly “pension credits,” as “phantom income”, which don’t reflect management success.

That proposal attracted just 15% of the votes, according to Dow Jones. About 86% of Qwest shares were represented in person or by proxy at the meeting.

Qwest’s management and board of directors opposed both proposals.

US West retirees have argued that their pension increases have not been adequate, particularly in view of the high level of executive pay. Last year Qwest Chief Executive Joseph Nacchio was paid $855,000 in salary and a $2 million bonus, including $750,000 for closing the US West deal.

Qwest spokesman Mike Tarpey told Dow Jones last month that there was a surplus of $4.1 billion in the pension fund at year end, though that has fallen since then due to market conditions.

– Nevin Adams          

Also see Fireside Dogs to Pitbulls for details on last year’s challenge.