Retirees Get Votes on Qwest Ballot

March 7, 2001 ( - Retiree activists have won a major victory, as the Securities and Exchange Commission denied Qwest Communications' attempt to block a second ballot initiative from a retiree group.

The resolution, submitted by stockholder members of the Association of US West Retirees (AUSWR), could block Qwest’s board of directors from tapping into paper gains of a $7 billion surplus in the pension plan to boost the compensation of top executive officers.

Jim Norby, chairman of AUSWR, noted that Qwest earnings have decreased over the past several years, but thanks to earnings from the pension plan, corporate earnings were listed at $33 million in 1997, $101 million in ’98 and $151 million in ’99. 

Second Shot

Last week the SEC denied Qwest’s attempt to block a vote on the company’s “golden parachute” executive severance programs.  For its part, Qwest claims the decisions are “ordinary business” decisions, not subject to shareholder vote.

Both resolutions will now be voted on at the Qwest annual meeting on May 3 in Denver.

The Association of U S West Retirees (AUSWR) represents more than 45,000 retired employees and their spouses of the former U S West and affiliate Bell telephone companies.

While Qwest disagreed with the retiree group’s characterization of the SEC’s decision, they are prohibited from expressing a view on the resolutions until it distributes its proxy statement.

– Nevin Adams

See previous articles:

US West Faces Pensioners’ Revenge

Time Running Out for US West Retirees