Qwest's exec perks assailed
Union investor group targets CEO's relocation costs
By Jeff Smith
Rocky Mountain News
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
A union investor group is protesting Qwest's executive
perquisites, especially a relocation agreement with CEO Ed
Mueller that wound up costing the Denver telco $1.8 million.
CtW Investment Group, which works with union pension funds
affiliated with the group Change to Win, sent a letter last week
criticizing the "excessive" perks to James Unruh, chairman of
Qwest's compensation committee. The Wall Street Journal
first reported the letter.
Michael Garland, CtW's director of value strategies in New York, said the organization plans to send
a representative to Qwest's annual stockholders meeting May 22
to speak out against the perks. CtW wants Qwest's board to
recover $1.2 million of the money.
"Reimbursing (an executive) for reasonable relocation expenses
said. "A $2 million giveaway is neither reasonable nor
Qwest spokeswoman Diane Reberger said the company had no comment
about CtW's letter and referred to the annual proxy statement to
In the proxy, Qwest said it bought Mueller's California home in September for $8.9
million, the average of two independent appraisals. It
then sold the home in December for $7.1 million after closing
costs and commissions.
Reberger has said previously Qwest offers similar relocation
benefits to all executives at the vice president level and
CtW argues in its letter that even though California is in a severe housing downturn,
home prices "did not tumble 15 percent in less than four
It estimates the market value of Mueller's home in September was
$7.7 million -- not the $8.9 million Qwest paid. The
letter also notes other "excessive" perks, including the
personal use of the corporate jet by Mueller's family.
smithje@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-954-5155