The Association of U S West Retirees



Some Qwest directors warm to stockholders at annual event
By Jane Hoback & Gil Rudawsky
Rocky Mountain News
Friday, May 30, 2008

Nelson Phelps noticed a change by Qwest's board of directors this year at the annual stockholders meeting.

Phelps, executive director of the Association of U S West Retirees, said they were more accessible, with many in the entryway a half-hour before the meeting, introducing themselves and chatting with stockholders.  He singled out director Frank Popoff, who he said promised to talk with other directors later that day about some of the retirees' issues.

Phelps didn't get quite the same warm response from James Unruh, chairman of Qwest's compensation and human resources committee.

"I believe you and I were in the same article," Phelps said he told Unruh, referring to a recent Wall Street Journal article.

The article reported that a union investment group had sent a letter to Unruh, complaining about a relocation benefit given to Qwest CEO Ed Mueller that cost the company $1.8 million.

"(Unruh) gave me a stern look and walked away," Phelps said.

The telco's retirees also said they believed Mueller did a good job listening to their concerns, which included complaints about executive compensation, board oversight and the decrease in retiree benefits.

"Mueller seemed to be genuinely listening," Phelps said.  "He wasn't agreeing with everything he heard, but he was respectful to our retirees."

Mimi Hull, president of the Association of U S West Retirees, said she is more skeptical, and that more needs to be done to overcome the image that management and the board live in an ivory tower.