Lucent Retirees’ Responses To LRO Survey – March 2004
Sampling of Concerns & Comments Lifted from 496 Email Responses
The concerns and comments from Lucent retirees shown below came in
response to this sentence in the LRO Survey: We need your input as to what
your most important concerns are. Please take some time to identify which of
your concerns you want us to work on.
“The most important thing to me is the security of my pensions benefits
and my medical coverage for the future.”
“All I want is what I was promised when I retired. I am pleased with what
you are doing so far. Keep up the good work!”
“The major concern I would like addressed is the elimination of benefits
promised to retirees. I think it is abominable that Lucent has been able to
break promises they made to retirees at the time of their retirement. If
Lucent hadn't been so short-sighted during times when so called excess funds
accumulated in employee retirement plans, they wouldn't be having a
difficult time meeting retirement obligations today. Even though it was
legal, any idiot knows that the growth obtained during the recent boom
market was not going to continue forever, and the funds should have remained
in the plan to meet needs during lean times we are experiencing now.
Corporate executives were more interested in maximizing operating profits by
pulling funds from the retirement plan than they were in the welfare of
“I appreciate what you're trying to do to help retirees, but my concern
is for the survival of Lucent. The company appears to be struggling for
survival and any additional financial burden we put on them will only serve
to decrease the chance for their return to profitability.”
“One comment: I believe we should make a LOT of noise publicly about the
bonuses paid to Pat Russo and others when there is so little accomplished
for the company by these people. Make it known how they are taking monies
from the very hands of the people who need it the most. When a company is
foundering, it should be economizing in obvious areas of waste before
failing to meet current obligations and responsibilities. It should NOT be
using the resources to satisfy the greed of higher level executives until
those commitments are satisfied.”
“1. Continuation of the pension check. As I enter my fifth year of
retirement on March 17 I see a continuing erosion of my net dollars. I
wonder if Pat Russo is working for the same money today that she did five
years ago? I think not. I realize that maybe it's utopia but what not give
the pensioners some type of raise?
2. Although in a lot of respects it's bad at best-a valid GOOD health care
plan. The 401 plan is far down the drain and I would hope that the medical
coverage doesn't follow it.
3. With Mr. Greenspan's "suggestion" a few weeks ago-Social Security and the
continuation of it not as he wants it nor Bush but as it should be. Support
the candidates who support SS.”
"I am so PROUD to be a member of this organization and am so thankful
that you are as dedicated to this cause as we are. To have people help us
stand up for ourselves and at least try to retain our benefits and rights
with dignity and character gives me a feeling that all is not lost and we
are not just at the mercy of Lucent and their decision-making. Thanks to
you, we now have a voice - and a darn good voice it is !!!!"
“Info about how retirees could possibly help Lucent be more financially
“Info about how Lucent is doing in the market place.”
“1. (highest priority by far): Healthcare benefits for retirees and
dependents. I retired in July 2003 thinking that my wife and I would both
get our health insurance partially subsidized by LU, but LU broke that
promise within months. Also, anecdotally, I've heard several tales of
"nickel and dime" cuts in the ongoing benefits (e.g., specific drugs and
procedures have been dropped or require a higher co-pay.
2. Other retiree benefits - e.g., life insurance - need protection from
3. Lucent is still mired in the past - specifically, the business practices
that (perhaps) served it well when it was the in-house vendor for the Bell
System, but are woefully inadequate today. After working at Bell Labs for 5
1/2 years, and then (in 1985) moving to AG Communication Systems, which
later became a LU subsidiary (and is now being disbanded by LU), I can tell
you from much first-hand experience that LU management and culture have
changed remarkably little in spite of two decades of radical change in the
industry. I own far too much LU stock to be unconcerned about that. I'm
hoping that the retirees can use their influence to encourage what has
always been unthinkable for LU: new blood in the management ranks,
specifically hiring managers from outside the company who explicitly do not
know, and explicitly do not care to know, anything about the Lucent culture
“Once the game is over, the King and the pawn go back in the same box.--
“I am worried about the Health Insurance for retirees story that appeared
in the Boston Globe.... what is the probability of Lucent eliminating this?
What is the chance that the pension given to management in 2001 to take
early retirement will also be stopped?”
“1. No more deteriation of health benefits services - visual, dental and
2. A reasonable increase (health benefits) can be expected (2 or 3 % per
year) but in the last three years it went from 0 to 300 in seemingly 10
seconds. Pretty soon I will owe Lucent every month not the other way around.
3. Would like to see a cpi reinstitued into our pensions. Cost of living???
4. If we, employees and retirees, don't see increases why do executives get
bonuses? Shouldn't their bonuses tied into the profitability or lack there
of like the rest of us?”
“1. I have been retired 20 years now and have only had one COLA,
therefore it is difficult to prioritize my concerns, they are many. But it
is a very large loss to my wife to no longer expect the death benefit of one
year salary, when the time comes.
2. Please stop any more changes or losses on my 'traditional medical
insurance'. Since my wife and I are on Medicare which pays 0%, as of last
year our insurance only pays 80% on everything, including hospitalization
and surgical expenses therefore, it will cost us a very large fee every time
we have to go to the hospital, which at our age is most likely to be more
often than when I was still in the work force.
3. The loss of the dental plan was devastating; again with out any COLA we
are still trying to live on the pension I received in 1984, with one small
change while I was still receiving my pension check from AT&T.
4. A major concern that our prescription insurance will be getting some
terrible change, seems like it changes (for the worse) at the rate of about
10% per year. But lately with the major change to a different management
group, some policy changes have taken place. Just please keep the lid on
what's left real tight.”
“Keep the pressure on Lucent to not reduce benefits any further. Find out
what happened to the money that was in Pension Fund. Was it used properly or
for something other than intended? Regardless of political party push
government officials to stop Companies from reducing benefits and pensions
earned by retirees. Explore and suggest to Lucent alternate means of
reducing costs other than benefits and pensions. Use the resources of LRO to
help all members regardless of group size.”
“Lucent upper echelon needs to learn to keep the promises that were made
at various times to the employees who were planning to retire. The trust
they put in the corporate lawyers for an interpretation will not support
these promises. I picked up on a feeling last visit with those I left
working that Pat Russo feels we retirees are a millstone around her
“I would like to know where Lucent is standing on the Medicare bill. I am
afraid they will drop the prescription benefit due to the Medicare coverage
which is much poorer than what we have with Lucent. Like the Medicare
coverage for health care you are basically forced to take it and then you
loose what you have with Lucent. The prescription benefit is not one I wish
to loose or be forced to loose.”
“I am most Interested in what they are going to do with the retiree
benefits. I am so afraid I will lose the drug coverage and the supplemental
coverage to Medicare. I retired in 1990 under the union; I took a discount
pension from AT&T. I lost a lot of money from my pension but was guaranteed
paid up health care for the rest of my life. Due to taking discounted
pension, now I am afraid of losing these benefits when I am now 65. However
my pension is low due to taking the discount. If I had waited 6 months more,
I would have kept money but company was in a facility closing and I took
retirement early. I think LRO is doing a great job. Please keep fighting for
us. I would like to see more articles on health care and on the pensions. Is
the union contract up this year in October? I am so afraid they are going to
take everything away and we were guaranteed under our retirement plan that
we would have these when we got old. Keep up the good work.”
“1. I cannot handle anymore healthcare costs. My husband is self-employed
and has no benefits whatsoever. His wages are less than my retirement
income. Medical insurance costs are taking too big a percentage of my
2. A guarantee of pension benefit.
3. Cost of living increases would be appropriate.”
“As Retirees (1989), we cannot afford any further disintegration of our
benefits. I am for any collaboration/s that might help our cause.”
“LRO. Keep up the good work. You're doing great!”
“I believe in the 5+5 case, Lucent offered medical benefits as an
incentive to get people to take the package. As an attractor, I believe it
becomes part of the contract. They offered a $9000 value per year, and are
now taking it away.”
“My concern is my pension and benefits. I went from paying nothing per
month last year, to $445.00 per month this year for my health care. This is
a critical issue with me. I have prostate cancer and my wife just got out of
the hospital after having surgery to remove a brain tumor. I Thank God
several times a day that it was not cancer. The hospital charges for that
were over $32K. We have not seen the doctor bill yet, and she is going to
have to have radiation and frequent doctor visits for some time to come. I
have not seen what my charges are for cancer treatments, but the one shot I
have to get every 3 months, I have been told is between $1500 and $2000 a
pop. You can see my top 10 is health care. I do not have Pat Russo's income
and I can't stand much of these kinds of expenses.”
“I still suggest meeting with LU to move the Pension fund under LRO
control (or joint control) so that LU can not raid it or underfund it.”
“The LRO needs to concentrate on obtaining proxies from Lucent retirees.”
“Will our prescription benefits vanish when Medicare prescription drug
program starts up?”
“Specifically, put Western Electric and AT&T retirees back with AT&T
before the new smaller company spun off, namely Lucent, is forced into
reorganization or bankruptcy. Primarily, because the small number of active
employees will be unable to generate the earnings necessary to fully fund
our retirement system for an extended number of years. The math simply does
not work and this major issue should be brought before all retirees at large
now, for their position on this matter, which will ultimately affect us all.
We don't need to fight and win more battles but instead we need to win the
war of having a pension with health benefits until we die, as we all I
suspect, had planned. Lucent, with their last benefits mailed literature,
indicated they felt 2004 and 2005 would be funded but gave no explanation as
to what to expect beyond 2005. I know they still do 2, 5 & 10 year planning
for pension and benefit expense coverage. Why are we not asking for these
business plans so they can be shared and we can all plan our future
“Health care issues is what I find to be the most important and the
continued loss of our benefits from a company that needs to find its moral
obligation to their retirees. The only way this management team of Lucent
will find their way is if they are forced into it. The faith the retirees
have in this Lucent management is gone.”
“Don't let Lucent take anymore health benefits away from retirees.”
“The LRO needs to assist the LU benefits department in negotiating Health
Benefits with Health Insurers regarding the insurance premiums charged to LU
and to retirees.”
“I am most concerned about health care coverage. Per recent shareholder
meeting, it looks like we are in for another hit and possibly a big one at
that. I really feel this is a commitment that the company made to us (anyone
with long service) and they must find a way to support it, at least until
(if and when) the government does something. I can see health care costs
eating away most of a retiree's pension over time. I have an Uncle who is 84
and he noted his whole pension now goes to pay health care. Will that be our
fates if we live long?
Another aspect of health care and also our pensions: If Lucent must cut back
support now, can we get a commitment they will add support if and when the
business becomes stronger? Why must everything be a permanent loss? I can
accept no pension increase while the business struggles, but if it comes
back, why can't we receive a pension increase and/or a reduction in health
care costs? Of course, what is the evaluator for that? The company probably
will always claim the profit level is never enough to strengthen the
pension/health care funds. The problem is once we lose something, getting it
back will be next to impossible. That's the thought that really upsets me.
I truly appreciate the good efforts put forth by the LRO leadership team.
“1. PRESERVATION OF RETIREMENT BENEFITS
2. PRESERVATION OF RETIREMENT BENEFITS
3. PRESERVATION OF RETIREMENT BENEFITS”
“1. The preservation of my pension. Explanation: my retirement planning
has always included various components, but the Lucent pension is a key
element on which I am entitled to rely.
2. Health care coverage. Explanation: Since I was forced by Lucent to retire
at 55, I need the health insurance coverage promised to me by Lucent at
retirement (explicitly stated in the FMP document) until I reach the
Medicare age. Furthermore, the health care situation in the United States is
so disastrous that this item must be at the top of the list of any political
campaign for me to take anyone seriously, including the LRO. The current
White House and the Majority in Congress are totally disqualified.
3. Strength in numbers. Explanation: Isolated attempts to solve the problems
that we face will be for the most part futile. I see the LRO as a building
block for a larger coalition of retiree organizations that will weigh
heavily on the political life of the United States in 2004 and beyond. After
all, the 77 million baby-boomers that will follow us into retirement will
again represent the largest single segment of the American population. We,
as a demographic segment, can still strongly influence the direction of the
country. I urge the LRO leadership to ABANDON any attempts to focus on
limited issues (in scope and impact) and on issues that will only affect a
limited number of people. That is exactly the opposite of what needs to be
4. Shareholders power. Explanation: The elimination of the recently
publicized corporate governance abuses will never be real if it is left to
the SEC and Congress. The greatest impact will come from the organized
effort of the owners of these corporations, that is the shareholders. Note
what happened at Disney early this month and even our own success in getting
a substantial number of shareholders to support our initiatives at Lucent.
The corporate Boards are no guarantee of fair play today. They are too
entrenched in the corporate clubs and cannot be considered truly
5. Political involvement. Explanation: The issues at hand are of such
magnitude that only a concerted effort at all political levels, from the
local arena to the Presidency, can produce lasting improvements. By
political involvement I mean: (a) A public and well-publicized "platform",
stating clearly what we support and what we demand. (b) The formal
submission of this "platform", by the LRO leadership (with tens of thousands
of signatures) to the presidential candidates of both parties, to the head
of the NRLN, to the head of the AARP, to the appropriate Cabinet members
(Health and Human Services, etc.) and to the heads of the Democratic
National Committee and the Republican National Committee. (c) The submission
of the same "platform", by the LRO members to their respective
representatives in Congress and at the State level. (d) Organized meetings
with local representatives (already proposed by the LRO leadership, but
apparently not executed yet) all over the country. (e) Joint initiatives
(documents, meetings, marches, etc.) with other retiree organizations in
order to arrive at a Retiree Agenda for 2004 and beyond. NOTE: We cannot
afford to waste the opportunity offered by an election year. Four years
later, it would be too late. Lucent would have rolled back most of the
benefits that we count on.
6. It is also my priority to be an active member of the LRO and I intend to
join the leadership team in the near future, preferably through the
“1. Protect our pensions. If Lucent needs to make changes, they should
affect only those still working. Then those employees can make an educated
decision as to when they can retire just like we made based on our benefits.
2. Health benefits. I don't have a problem with paying a modest contribution
for our health care premiums. (Starting this year, I'm paying $181/month.)
That's about as much I can afford on my small pension--particularly since
the insurance pays so little and we still have to pay a significant sum for
each occurrence. (Example, my husband has an outpatient procedure at the
hospital every 7 weeks. After Medicare, CIGNA paid 19 cents, on one
occasion, leaving a balance of over $315 for us to pay. What I see now is
that the insurance companies are letting Medicare pay the covered amount so
what are the insurance companies doing with the dollars that Lucent pays
each month along with the premiums we pay? Fortunately CIGNA was not an
option for 2004 but I'm not expecting much improvement in United Healthcare.
Will have to wait and see. Point is, if we have to continue to pay more, I
expect better coverage.
3. I'm so tired of hearing our executives talk about what other companies
are or are not offering and we should no longer expect the benefits we have
earned. Well, frankly I'm sick of hearing it. I went to work for Western
Electric at a young age BECAUSE the pay and benefits were excellent for the
times. I was always so proud to be a part of the company. I might add that
other companies in the area did not offer equivalent benefits then, but
Western Electric didn't use that as an excuse. They treated their employees
well and received loyal dedication in return. I believe we do not have the
right person in charge of our company and I believe that the top executives
are not making sacrifices and taking hits in their pockets like us little
4. I believe our management has consistently stated that our management
trust fund has not done as well as the shop/graded trust fund, thus
management retirees have to pay more for benefits. Why not get the managers
of the shop/graded fund to also manage our fund if it's doing better?
Obviously, something is wrong if one is doing better than the other.
5. This brings up another issue. Why are management retirees the only ones
having to pay? Shop people made great money because in many cases they
worked unlimited overtime with pay, whereas we worked unlimited overtime in
many cases without pay. Everyone is not being treated fairly.
6. The death benefit that we lost was unfortunate. I had carried additional
supplemental insurance for years thru the company as well as a policy
outside the company. I dropped the supplemental upon retirement knowing that
I would lose it at age 65 anyway. However, I kept the outside policy but
later decided that I did not need all that insurance or the monthly
payments. After I cancelled it, our beloved Lucent also cancelled theirs.
Now at my age it's not feasible to get more insurance. However, this issue
is not as critical as the ones mentioned above. Did the shop people also
lose their death benefit?”
“(1) The LRO’s mission and operations -- including growing membership and
(2) finding the most effective ways to insure Lucent meets it's promise and
obligations to all retirees and
(3) working in public forums to gain legislative and regulatory support for
“I am highly disappointed that the LRO has not started any litigation
relative to Lucent's breech of contracts with its retirees. I am however
encouraged to see the Oct 23, 2003 filing by Chimicles & Tikellis in the N.
J. Courts relative to the elimination of the Death Benefits.
I am anxious to see if they can expand that to the other issues that we are
all concerned about. I am one of those retirees for whom Lucent no longer
provides subsidy for my wife's medical insurance. I retired in 1995 with a
base salary of over $87,000. Although I realize that the universe of those
who fit these requirements may be small, I would like to see Lucent taken to
task about this as well as the other benefits eliminations.
As a matter of interest, I started at Lex Rd (Actually Chatham Rd &
Waughtown)1956, left Lex Rd. for Denver in 69, to N.J.in 78, then to Orlando
in 84, and then to Fed. Sys. in Burl in 86 Retiring from the Gilford Center
in 1995 as Manufacturing and Operations Director. The promises the company
makes were reinforced with every move and promotion, only to have all my
hard work and increases in salary now working against me.
LRO's Appraisal, because of these failures to press our concerns, would be
in the middle of the 3rd quartile.”
“Thanks for what you are doing. I just recently joined LRO. I appreciate
the work you did at the recent Lucent stockholder's meeting.”
“I try to keep up with what is happening with our organization. What is
happening is very important to me. I write or email senator a lot I have
talked to Rob Barron in his Des moines Office and senator Harkin is very
interested. Rob says articles are important, that is the only way we know
what is happening. Telecom industries are important and we should be trying
to bring back these as our nation is now in debt up to our eyeballs. If we
do not get something before the election we will get 0. That is just how it
works. Updates on web site are our communication with each other - very
"I would most like to see what LRO is doing politically to force Lucent
to live up to its promises."
"A great concern of mine is that Lucent has axed the Life Insurance &
death benefit payments to spouses upon the death of the retiree. My wife
signed the waiver to not receive any pension payments after my death & was
planning to invest the death & insurance payments for her future. As it
stands now, she will get a big fat zero from Lucent. I would like to see
the option again to either receive continued pension payments to surviving
spouses or receive larger payments during the life of the retiree."
"I am most concerned about pension and medical benefits. I am in favor of
anything that will enhance the long-term safety of those benefits. Anything
else is a waste of time."
"1. The safety of our pensions and the funds supporting the pensions
2. Are the retirees going to lose their medical benefits?
3. Will Lucent eliminate the Prescription drug plan now that Congress has
enacted the Medicare Prescription Plan?"
"The number one item of interest to me is the restoration of the death
benefit which was given to us 15 years ago from ATT and it was assumed that
monies were set aside at that time for that benefit; I believe I am in that
small percentage of retirees and therefore agree with investing LRO
resources to have that benefit restored."
"I would like for LRO to do all that it can to keep Lucent from eroding
our benefits in the future. When I hired on, WECo promised that it would
provide benefits in retirement after I completed 20 years. I know I retired
from Lucent, but it was still the same company."
These benefits are of great concern to me and my family. We've lost the
death benefits and the health benefits are slowly eroding. I'm worried about
my pension. With the new Medicare bill I'm concerned that my out of pocket
drug prescriptions is going to increase.”
"I don't get a warm feeling of great concern from the Lucent Management
Team. Lucent keeps telling us the trouble they're in but compensations don't
seem to suffer and neither do outrageous fees paid to cost cutting
consultants. Government has to step up to the plate and work with all these
companies who are reducing benefits that were promised to retires before
it's too late. I certainly don't look forward to the fall when the new
medical package comes out. Welcome to the golden years. Great job on the LRO
"I think you are doing fine and are keeping retirees up to date on
issues. I think one of my current concerns is how the newly proposed drug
payment legislation will affect the Lucent retiree drug payment plan. Will
Lucent reduce their drug plan contribution such that our net benefits are
“#1 Make it known that Lucent will risk adverse reaction and publicity if
retiree's benefits are further eroded. This is a serious national issue also
affecting many retirees from many other companies. Lucent retirees
(specifically the recent retirees who can carry on the fight) will not stand
#2 Get a commitment that when Lucent stocks reach a specific profitable
level, benefits will not be cut down. This commitment must come from the
#3 Become active in the political arena; especially now to take advantage of
the coming election. Make retirees plight an issue worthy of the
Presidential candidates. Tie this in with the #1 and #2 items by setting up
action committees staffed by LRO members and Lucent employees (issue impacts
their pension too) who can become LRO members after they retire. This would
provide succession planning for LRO.
#4 Show Lucent how LRO members can play an active part in contributing to
Lucent's bottom line. This would allow LRO members to actively interface
with Lucent employees in a common goal.
#5 Align LRO with other retiree organizations of other companies to put
retiree issues as a visible political agenda for the President and Congress.
Remember, though the economy may be getting better for the working man; the
retirees may be suffering which makes the economic
recovery a house of cards that can fall if the millions of its retired
citizens can not afford proper (not cheap) health care.
#6 Align LRO with AARP for a common goal. Learn from AARP how to build
"I attended the Henry Schacht meeting in Dallas last year and heard Henry
say that Lucent was going to try and have similar meetings quarterly with
the retirees. Has anything happened on this? I know he said that our
benefits will probably take another hit this year, but, a little reaction
time would be good. I was in the group that saw a rise in my medical to $515
per month without dental. We were told that the government made Lucent take
the actions they did by groups rather than spread the pain among all
retirees. I would just like to make sure we have a voice, or understand
fully the reasons why my group takes it in the shorts again this year as
opposed to some other group, like those making less than $85,000 per year. I
can't thank the LRO enough for stepping up to the plate. No telling how bad
the pain might have been without your
intervention. The executive salary issue is still a real sore point with
many of us regardless of Schacht's comments on their dedication and
"I have one overriding issue that I would like the LRO to address:
Lucent's elimination of the dependent medical subsidy for (some) retirees in
2004. This action resulted in a huge increase
in my monthly payment for retiree medical benefits and is outrageous. In
general, the affordability of medical benefits is the most important issue
"Lucent should live up to the promises they made when I accepted an early
retirement package in 12/89. If I (or anyone) knew they were going to
ultimately screw everyone, no one would have accepted their lies! People
planned their lives around these benefits.”
“1. Restore health/dental benefits that were promised. 2. Restore "death
benefit". 3. Bring the crooks who ran Lucent into the ground to justice. Let
them join Martha in the slammer. 4.The management at Lucent are liars. They
only understand litigation. Do what it takes."
"For me the most important issue is watching and acting on Lucent's
actions, such as short changing the pension fund through trickery, the cut
in health benefits, eliminating the death benefit, unduly benefiting
executives (especially those who do not perform) at retirees expense."
"1. Protection of Healthcare Benefits. Ensure that retirees have no
further cuts in benefits and the Healthcare Insurance Companies Lucent
elects provides coverage to retirees (e.g. United Healthcare is still not
accepted at Advocate Hospitals here in the Chicago area -- Big problem to
2. Keeping Healthcare Benefits Affordable. Lucent continues to discriminate
against retirees by providing Active Employees with cheaper medical and
dental deductibles. Should be the same! Eliminate Age Discrimination
Practices at Lucent.
3. LRO should seek alternate Healthcare Insurance Group Policies so that we
are not dependent on Lucent. (If Lucent has 33K Active Employees and we have
127K Retired Employees, LRO should be able to negotiate a better Group
Healthcare Insurance Policy than Lucent).
4. Reinstatement of Lost Benefits.
5. Work with Federal Legislatures to ensure that Pension and Benefit laws
are modernized and funded. See my comments below under your Political
6. Increase the size of LRO's Membership so that most of the 127K retirees
7. Improve LRO communications. Great enhancements were made during the
latter half of last year. However, I am still getting notices from retirees
who have no knowledge of what LRO is doing.
8. Continue to support proxy issues that are in the best interest of
9. Endorse Political Candidates who support LRO's actions and views.
10. Consider a slate of LRO candidates who will challenge current Lucent
"The Wall Street Journal dated 3/16/04 on the front page column 5 & 6
plus page A-16 col. 1 has an article which reads "How Cuts In Retiree
Benefits Fatten Companies Bottom Line". It is an excellent article precisely
how the reductions made by Lucent (Lucent was not specifically mentioned in
the article) in our benefits elevated their gain (just like cash received)
so as to permit Lucent to meet their fiscal goals for 2003. Consequently,
bonuses were provided for about 31,000 employees, if my memory serves me
right. We need some kind of legislation that will stop these accounting
practices that permit penalties for retirees being the sponsorship of
company bonuses. Please read the article. You have already been told by at
least one corporate executive that some future benefit action may hinge on
the legislative scene & that there might be something happening in 2005, to
"1. Secure Lucent Pensions
-Closely monitor and report on Lucent's management of its pension funds
- Try to get one or more seats on the boards that manage the Lucent pension
- Report on the financial health and status of Lucent pension funds
- Make sure Lucent decisions and actions on the management of its pension
funds are subject to proper oversight and review including public review
- Support important legislation that can help protect the security of Lucent
- Support candidates and groups that can help protect the security of Lucent
2. Maintain and if possible restore Lucent retiree benefits.
-Closely monitor and report on Lucent decisions and actions regarding
- Try and influence Lucent decisions on Lucent retiree benefits
- Make sure Lucent decisions and actions on the management of its retiree
benefits are subject to proper oversight and review including public review.
- Support important legislation that can help protect Lucent retiree
- Support candidates and groups that can help protect Lucent retiree
"1.) Secure pension funds at the level they are. With jobs - in the
Midwest especially - at an all time low, having the fall back of our pension
plan is essential for most of us.
2.) Reinstatement of Medicare Part B. For the older retirees especially this
is a big concern. Their pensions are less to start with and expenses are
definitely more so any help they can get will help. For those who are just
now entering the Medicare age, life does not look too rosy either.
3.) Death benefits for those older retirees who just lost it - those of us
who retired in the late 90's/early 2000s knew we would not receive it so it
should not be a big concern for us. I imagine that with the added expense of
contributing to medical expenses, most of the 80/90 year old population of
retirees are suffering sufficiently that this death benefit will hurt them
at a time when they least need it. If this is one of the minority issues
that LRO wants to/should address, then I'm all for it."
"I would like to know why all Lucent Retirees do not share the expense of
When I retired after 34 years I had to start paying health insurance which I
feel is unfair because everyone that retired before me does not pay. Come on
now lets be fair about paying our fair share of medical insurance. I thought
when I retired I would not have to pay medical (health Insurance) just like
everyone else. Is this something you can help with or should I just forget
"There are a significant number of retirees who continue to work because
they/we accepted early retirement. In other words – did not plan on retiring
and are struggling to find that second career which is as rewarding and
challenging as the years with Lucent (Western Electric, AT&T and then Lucent
-- and all with the same organization as it evolved with
telecommunications.) Without the Lucent benefits and pension, I/we would be
out of a home and on welfare. Protecting what is
left is vital to our very existence."
"There are major issues that concern most of us. I believe we should
focus on these, e.g. Healthcare/Drugs/Etc., Protection of our current
Pensions from erosion, Spousal Death Benefits.
Above all, a voice within Lucent with respect to the preservation of the
Management Retiree Trust Fund. As you folks have pointed out, an absolute
imperative is that Lucent continues to grow back into a formidable and
healthy company. We must do all we can to promote this effort.
Also, we must continue to involve ourselves with other related retirement
organizations, their efforts, and members and influential people of our
government, especially the United States Congress."
"The most important issue for me is to continue to receive my monthly
pension payment. Therefore, I feel that the most important issue that you
can pursue is to determine the financial health of our pension funding. I am
very concerned that the funds available may not be sufficient to cover the
obligations. I have tried in vain to determine whether the funds that are in
the plans are sufficient, but I don't have the knowledge to make an
assessment, and, even if I did, I don't believe that we are provided
sufficient information from Lucent to do so."
"I think you are doing a good if not a great job. I do wonder why we do
not have some grounds to
go back to AT&T for some of the responsibility for what's happening here. We
should be getting some kind of increases instead of having things taken away
from us which, of course is 'wishing/dreaming' for too much.
I do recall the meeting I attended in Dallas when the Chairman of the Board
announced the divesture and his allusion to the legal expenses that AT&T was
going to save and the legal staff that could be reduced. (From my
observation I don't think they reduced the staff at all) Also the virtual
gift of all the assets to the Bell Operating Companies without any payback
seems stupid when you get to the point that we are at with Lucent.
I just feel that something is being overlooked as to the responsibility of
all parties involved. Something just does not feel right when a good portion
of us were retired from AT&T and then dumped over to Lucent whose executive
staff sits in a board meeting probably laughing about the whole situation
while they figure out how to dump us completely. I know that time
limitations probably preclude the possibility of going back to my retirement
date in 1987 but something is wrong when our only resource is Lucent when
there is a much wider responsibility. And of course the rewards that the
beloved Pat Russo and other staff members are getting that we obviously are
supporting is almost felonious."
"One issue that really concerns me is the possibility of Lucent dropping
its drug benefits because of the new senior prescription drug plan."
"1. It is true that Lucent is a small company with pension obligations to
a much larger number of employees. However, the division of the pension plan
was over funded for these obligations when Lucent was created. With prudent
management, there should be no problems as these obligations decreased as
the employee population grew smaller (vested pensions are less). The problem
seems to be that Lucent is no longer funding the pension plan for the
current employees which diminishes the plan for the total population. Will
Lucent continue to reduce pension benefits as a way to inflate corporate
profits and upper management pay?
2. Does Lucent intend to fully fund their pension plan during the
two-year moratorium recently approved by President Bush?
3. At one time, Lucent considered their employees corporate assets. Then
they came out with the statement "you work eight hours, you get eight hours
pay, you are even, we are even. We no longer want corporate loyalty" (i.e.
long term employees) This illustrates how out of touch our management is
with technical employees. Without employee motivation, loyalty, and support,
management produces nothing. Is it any wonder the new generation of
the corporate workplace a depressing place to work? Will this inspire U.S.
college students to major in engineering?
4. I worked my last few years with AT&T talking to customers and
identifying their needs. I was amazed at the hostility customers expressed
pertaining to Bell Labs employees. This was the rule, not the exception. A
NAVSEA employee summed it up best by saying, " I will work with Bell Labs
but I also have a PHD and I will be dammed if they are going to talk down to
me". What is Lucent doing to reduce the monopoly mentality that has been
part of out culture
for so many years?
5. Does Lucent’s upper management and board participate in the Lucent
management pension plan? If not, why not? Do they provide pension protection
and benefits for themselves that they are not willing to provide other
"We need counter active information to LU's party line re how lucky we
are to be getting whatever they decide to dole out. Specifically since most
of us had no choice but to retire from or get our benefits from LU, how the
retirees at predecessor companies are doing.....specifically ATT, baby
bells etc. LU loves to benchmark against the entire country…however, perhaps
more specific comparisons that are more generic and "kind" to us might
counter their claims."
" a) maintaining our current level of benefits. our retirement checks are
depleting as the company is pushing the burden of payment on retirees.
b) the so-called 'trust fund' established for Lucent benefits. maybe I
don't understand 'trust fund'. why will this fund be depleted? was it not up
to Lucent management to oversee this fund and insure the funds were placed
somewhere - perhaps gaining some type of interest/income so that they do not
c) tired of hearing Russo/Schacht pitching the line - 'Lucent is not the
same company'. They are the ones that are responsible for the decisions that
have brought Lucent to the level it is now - not the employees and/or
retirees. I believe McGinn./Schact/Russo and company all had a hand in the
companies demise when they tried to become something that they were not – a
Nortel, Cisco, etc. Because of this mismanagement and because it fits into
their plans - they now say Lucent is not the same company - of course not.
Western Electric/Lucent was once a proud company - and I was proud to tell
people who I worked for - not any more."
"I just want you to do everything that you can to protect our "pensions''
and our ''medical and drug coverage". Please keep up the good work, and keep
us posted as you have been doing."
"(a.) finding the most effective ways to insure Lucent meets it's promise
and obligations to all retirees. This should be our primary, if not only,
mission. Lucent made promises to recruit, retrain, and then incent people to
leave. Now they have broken those promises and it appears they will
eliminate all of those promises.
(b) working in public forums to gain legislative and regulatory support for
our goals. This is 1 method. I know we are trying to get a larger collective
voice by joining with other Retiree Organizations. I'd like to see us
partner with the AARP to encourage the support of all retirees since so many
of our issues are now becoming common with other retirees. We should push
AARP to create resources for a "Department" or "focus group" dedicated to
reversing the trend of corporations reneging on promised retiree benefits
and seeking whatever legislation is required."
"Thanks for doing a great job for the retirees of Lucent. My highest
priority is protecting my pension, for obvious reasons. I want someone to be
a watchdog for any reasons that Lucent could hurt the pension plan
Secondly - my health benefits
Third - I hope we keep a watch on the executives - the compensation they
receive, if they sell a lot of stock, any irregularities that could be a
precursor to something that may not be right
Fourth - I want you to continue to advocate on our behalf - I like having an
organized retiree group watching out for us and I want us to be as strong as
we possibly could be."
"I am most interested in the LRO working on the following via
communicating with Lucent Top Management:
1- Work to Secure the benefits (health insurances) and pensions for retirees
that Lucent promised us as retirees. We all worked so hard for these
benefits over the years and were told we would have them when they presented
them as retirement incentives. Retirees are beginning to feel the hardship
due to loss of coverage for their dependents in addition to the spiraling
costs they face for their own coverage. And 2004 was only the beginning! We
still may face many more changes and costs for our benefits that Lucent
management will no doubt initiate in the coming years.
2- Stay on top of Lucent Top Management. Try to keep them honest and
accountable to retirees and shareholders via open dialogue, written
communications, media, etc. Ensure the compensation packages, retention
payments, severance payments and LOANS to OFFICERS/Executives are in the
best interests of the shareholders and retirees.
3- Work with other interest groups, legislators and regulatory agencies,
more proxy proposals, etc., to help secure our health benefits and pensions.
I don't think you can just trust it to leave it to Lucent Management. Based
on the recent media articles, (lawsuits, penalties, etc,) and my prior
experiences at work, I think they need watchdogs over them!
4- Actively take steps to increase the membership of the LRO. There is
strength in numbers. We need to encourage new membership as the good work
you do impacts all retirees in most cases.
5- Maintain the LRO website. I think it is a critical source of information
and means of communication for members of the LRO. "
"I am very happy with LRO and it's stance of retiree issues. Keep
"I have sent letters to congressmen and AARP (also Mr.Bush) letting them
know how we need to stop the loss of benefits and to protect those of us
giving 30 years or more (unlike the "short term managers" with full pockets)
of service and to lock in what we went out with. The U.S. hourly employee
should be helped, not punished by greedy managers and lack of compassion
for our long term hard work."
“My priority items include:
1) Corporate governance issues, particularly related to pension and benefit
2) Legislative issues which are inimical to retiree interests (such as
Medicare prescription drug plan which encourages companies to drop drug
coverage without penalty).
3) The Lucent health care trust(s) and the way they have apparently been
grossly misused and/or misappropriated.
4) The ability of Lucent and other companies to use pension funds to
"manage" earnings and to influence management pay.
5) The use by Lucent management of Henry Schacht to interface with LRO
the public. This approach seems to be driven by a management perception
that there are no real issues, but only a public relations problem. Lucent
has long had this problem. There is a long history of company efforts to
spin information and misinformation to "keep the troops quiet" without even
remotely thinking there might actually be serious problems in need of
“Personal Thought: Just one time, I'd like Lucent executives and board of
directors to take some responsibility for the downfall of Lucent. I'm well
aware of the economic conditions and the down turn in the telecommunications
industry but no one ever mentions the bad decisions that were made at the
executive level/board of directors. What gives?”
“I think you are doing a good job. You certainly have my support.
Probably, the most important thing you can do is to keep the spotlight of
publicity on actions and proposed actions, from the Company and the
Government, affecting retirees. This requires monitoring and follow up.”
“Take proactive stands on pension and benefit preservation is high on my
list. Prevent further erosion or elimination of medical plan and
prescription drug coverage. Reading between the lines of company
correspondence, elimination of medical benefits is almost a foregone
conclusion within a year or two.
Assuming the LRO cannot impact the company's decision on this subject, then
lobby diligently so all health care premiums and medical costs can be taken
as either tax credits or deductions.
Many of us have retired based upon the promises and claims offered in the
5+5 retirement packages. One of the big "selling" features of this offer was
that a person could "lock-in" their medical retirement benefits. Virtually
everyone expected that inflating medical costs would erode the value of this
benefit over time, but few thought that the benefits would be so drastically
reduced in less than two years. This has significantly compromised the
"security" that the retirement package offered.
Keep a close eye on the pension plan funding and help ensure that these
funds are not pilfered. The loss of this income would be devastating,
especially to "early" retirees not yet eligible for Medicare or Social
Continue to notify LRO members regarding critical legislation and company
benefit issues so we can respond and support the collective effort.
Thanks for your vigilance!”
"First of all, thank you so very much for your efforts on the part of
Lucent retirees. It is wonderful that some of us have will and time to
devote to helping so many others who may need the help but for whatever
reason can only offer verbal/financial support.
I would like to see the LRO keep looking for opportunities to get its
point of view into the media. It is most important that we keep a dialog
with Lucent's management so we keep our considerable presence in their minds
when they think about cutting our benefits again or endangering our
pensions in any way. We should do anything we can to support the progress of
the company, but I hate to see U.S. jobs continually moved overseas."
"The top priority is preserving our existing pensions and benefits,
restoring the death benefit and dental subsidy. Thus keeping the promises
made while we were employed and believed that these benefits were deferred
"I am very concerned about the rapidly diminishing healthcare benefits I
receive from Lucent."
"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the
sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed
only if there is a light from within."
1. Health care benefits cuts
2. Dropping health care coverage subsidies for dependents of employees over
set earning levels. The income level selected was unbelievably low. People
close to the cut point were not
raking in bundles of money during their employment.
3. Giving people that retire some kind of assurance that benefits won't be
cut the day after they walk out the door. When you plan to retire (or take a
voluntary retirement sooner than planned)
you look carefully at the retirement plan to see if you can make it on what
you will receive. They could have something in the plan where the benefits
you have the day you retire will be guaranteed for 5 years or something like
that. I really feel that your benefits when you retire should be the ones in
place when you were hired, but I realize that this will never happen.
4. Lucent sending jobs overseas. I know this can add to the bottom line, but
I also believe that we need to build a strong future for our children and
grandchildren. I see bright kids unable
to find jobs. There are companies that don't do this, make good profits, and
have great employee benefits. I believe SAS is one of them. I know it is not
publicly traded, but I am sure they have
some management philosophies that would be transferable to Lucent.
5. Management of pension fund resources. I am not sure that the funds have
been managed in a manner that is in our best interests. Perhaps more LRO
involvement in oversight/review of the fund direction.
6. Lucent and other high tech companies bringing workers from overseas here,
because they claim they can't fill the jobs with American workers. There are
plenty of high tech workers available here.
7. Lucent claiming that they must do all of these things for the
shareholders. Well, we are the shareholders and sometimes I am not
particularly proud of it. I want a company that is not just
guided by greed, but by high sense of moral responsibility.
8. Executives that continue to reward themselves handsomely, while everyone
else struggles. I admit that Pat Russo has helped Lucent recover, but we
must not forget that she was part of the team that got us into this mess in
the first place. I am tired of hearing that this is needed to attract good
talent. In this economy, it appears there is plenty of talent ready to
sign-on for less. It looks
bad, and is nothing more than a method for greedy execs to reward themselves
and their buddies.
9. Having input on who is nominated to the board of directors.
10. Receiving more respect and recognition based on our contributions to the
company. In answering questions about healthcare and retirement plans, the
company makes me feel
like we are lepers standing in the way of corporate profitability. We are
not the ones that ruined the company. It was some of the gifted execs that
need big bonuses as retention incentives."