The Association of U S West Retirees



Exec's profits rub Qwest retirees raw
By Jeff Smith
Rocky Mountain News
Thursday, November 9, 2006

Qwest's chief legal officer netted pretax profits of $6.4 million this week exercising stock options, upsetting retirees whose benefits are being slashed.  Richard Baer, executive vice president and general counsel, sold 1.4 million Qwest shares at just under $9 a share, according to a federal regulatory filing Tuesday.  The options were granted at prices of $3.89 and $4.62.

Qwest spokesman Bob Toevs noted Baer had been awarded the options for his performance and still maintains a "significant equity interest in Qwest."  As of the company's proxy filing last spring, Baer had 2.5 million options that could be exercised and 220,000 restricted shares.

Nelson Phelps, executive director of the Association of U S West Retirees, said he has nothing against Baer personally.  "Obviously he has a very responsible and high-paying job," Phelps said.

"But whether Rich Baer or Barry Allen (executive vice president of operations) or Dick Notebaert (chief executive officer), this hits at a time when they are taking a significant amount of money away from retirees," Phelps said.

Notebaert informed retirees last month of plans to cut health care and life insurance benefits for thousands of nonunion retirees.  Retirees also complain they haven't received a pension increase for 10 years.

Curtis Kennedy, attorney for the retirees group, said he saw Baer's regulatory filing as he was about to meet with a 29-year management employee who lost her job at Qwest because of downsizing.  The woman, he said, was six months short of becoming eligible for a full pension.

"Her life is economically devastated and this guy comes into $6 million instantly," Kennedy said.  "I just think it's totally ironic.",2777,DRMN_23910_5129558,00.html