The Association of U S West Retirees



Couple say they're far from set after taking lump-sum payout in 2001
By Jeff Smith
Rocky Mountain News
Saturday, December 16, 2006

John and Veronica Rommelfanger, longtime U S West employees, left Qwest in 2001 after the two companies merged.  "The reason I left Qwest was that as a manager, they wanted me to put 30 people out of work and I decided I needed to go before they did," said John, a network operations manager.

Veronica also left at that time.  The couple decided to take a lump-sum payment, rather than pension, and invest the money themselves.

Today, John is selling real estate, while Veronica is helping take care of two of her grandchildren.

Are they set for retirement?  "Most certainly not;  that's one of the reasons I got a real estate license," said John, 56.  "Since I left early, I'm still a long way from Social Security, which I believe will be there.  Until that time, I need to keep active."

John said the family subscribed to Comcast when Qwest couldn't provide TV service in their neighborhood.  But he said he made a point of buying a Qwest communications package five months ago, partly out of loyalty to the company, after Qwest started reselling DirecTV satellite-television service.  He said his family has a bundle that includes home and cellular phone service, Internet and TV service.

Today, he considers it a "slap in the face" for retiree benefits to be cut.  He said the couple wanted to help put their grandchildren through school with the life insurance proceeds but now won't be able to.

He remembers the days when the telephone company was a family.

"Throughout our career, we always believed that we were better than the rest of the companies, you know, the spirit of service," John said.  "Now we're patterning ourselves after the same companies we believed we were so much better than."

John and Veronica Rommelfanger

Ages:  56 and 57

Residence:  Louisville

Job:  John, a network operations manager, left Qwest in 2001 after 28 years.  Veronica, a database administrator, had 32 years at U S West/Qwest when she left in 2001.

Losses:  The Rommelfangers will lose a total of $130,000 in life insurance money.  They are paying a total of $152 a month for health insurance with a high deductible.,2777,DRMN_23910_5218027,00.html