The Association of U S West Retirees



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 is appropriate," Garland said.  "A $2 million giveaway is neither reasonable nor appropriate."

Qwest spokeswoman Diane Reberger said the company had no comment about CtW's letter and referred to the annual proxy statement to shareholders.

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 above.

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 months."

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. or 303-954-5155