SunWest to Freeze it DB Plan, No Changes to DC Plan

February 23, 2007 ( - SureWest Communications announced that it will freeze its defined benefit plan, but has promised to enhance educational reimbursement options, employee recognition programs and to revise certain compensation policies.

The measure, effective April 1, closes the plan to future employees and discontinues future benefit accruals for current employees.

According to a press release, the Roseville, California-based telecommunications holding company has made cash contributions to its defined benefit plan ranging from $3 million to $9 million over the last five years, with annual service costs averaging $5 million over that same period.

SureWest said it was also considering changes to its defined contribution plan, which currently provides a match of 100% of contributions up to 6% of pay. The added features may include loan provisions, automatic enrollment and additional investment choices.

“We have worked very hard to develop a total compensation and benefit package that rewards outstanding performance and meets the needs of our employees,” said Steve Oldham, SureWest’s president and chief executive officer, in the press release. “What we have found is that only a very small percentage of our current employees will ultimately get full benefit from the current pension plan, so it makes absolute sense to freeze that benefit and reward employees in other ways.”