Verizon Retirees Launching Two Shareholder Proposals

April 15, 2004 ( - Verizon retirees are calling for greater independence of the company's board of directors and shareholder approval of any "extraordinary benefits" distributed through supplemental executive retirement plans.

The Association of BellTel Retirees Inc, an organization representing 200,000 Verizon retirees, is sponsoring the shareholder resolution dealing the issue of Supplemental Executive Retirement Plans (SERP). The proposal “seeks to halt contributions to the SERPs of certain senior executives that far exceedbenefit formulas that govern regular pension plans,” according to an Association news release.

Two board members of the Association are sponsoring the proposal calling for greater independence of Verizon’s board of directors.   Verizon’s annual shareholder meeting is April 28 th in Richmond, Virginia.

“Retirees and shareholders are fed up with self-dealing and the old boynetwork,” said Association President and Executive Director C. William Jones.   “The board and its directors must evolve and honor past promises made to retirees and do what is best for shareholders.”

In addition to the two proposals, the Association said plans for a third shareholder resolution were scrapped at the “11 th hour” after an agreement was reached between the Association and Verizon. The third proposal would have required shareholder approval of any Executive Severance Agreement more than 2.99 times an executive’s base salary and bonus (both cash and non-cash value), before Verizon agreed to change its policy. 

A similar, non-binding proposal by the retirees was passed 59% to 41% in 2003, but the Association was dissatisfied with Verizon’s failure to capture the spirit of the proposal.   Terms of the agreement between Verizon and the Association were undisclosed.