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,"
"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