say they're far from set after taking lump-sum payout in
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
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
"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
John and Veronica
Ages: 56 and 57
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.