AUSWR
The Association of U S West Retirees
 

 

 

Q&A: Curtis Kennedy
A conversation with an attorney for the Association of U S West Retirees
By Andy Vuong, Staff Writer
Denver Post
Sunday, July 22, 2007

Q.  Why did you decide to do this type of work -- taking on large corporations on behalf of retirees?

A:  I've been doing this line of work for 25 years.  Now that I'm into it, I can't leave it because these people continue to be mistreated and discarded by corporate America.

I got started years ago when I began to see that companies took advantage of retirees all for the goal of making more profit.  What I saw in the early '80s is a trend in this country where corporations were casting aside their promises to retirees, and that's just not right.

When I first started doing this work, the people I helped out, they worked 35 to 40 years for one company.  You don't see that anymore.  That really had an impression on me that these people deserve the best help they can get.

Q:  What was the first company you battled against on behalf of retirees?

A:  It was known as Southern Bell Telephone Co., based out of Florida.  It's a part of what AT&T had.  It was a worker at Southern Bell who came to Denver, and then it was time to go back, and they didn't want him to come back.  He came to Denver for training.  That was my first exposure to companies not living up to their promises.

Q:  How many Bell System-related cases have you handled over the years?

A:  Over 70. Five are pending right now.

Q:  How big is your firm?

A:  It's just me.  I don't have a paralegal;  I don't have a secretary ... I do it all.  I do the typing.  I physically run to the post office.  I do all my delivering.  I do all the research and writing.

Q:  What was the significance of former Qwest chief Joe Nacchio's conviction on illegal insider trading for US West/Qwest retirees?

A:  It's important that they see some justice.  This is gluttony at its worst. ... He was so callous.  He was so unconcerned about terminating employment.  I saw that aspect more than I saw the investment losses.

Q:  What has been the most gratifying moment of your career?

A:  I stand proud that I helped ensure that 30,500 (US West) retirees received lifetime healthcare coverage at no cost.  I was able to get US West leadership to memorialize a guarantee of healthcare coverage, which to this day is binding on Qwest.  As a result of that litigation (in 1996), that outcome is worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  The satisfaction I get out of it is knowing that it's worth more to those people than their pension payment.

Q:  Who are your heroes?

A:  That's been a troubling question for me because I can't put my finger on someone. ... But I can tell you that my heroes in the real sense were my schoolteachers.  And my foster parents.  Between those two sets of people, I wouldn't be where I am if it weren't for them.

Q:  What do you do in your free time?

A:  I spend all of my time with my children. I have three children -- 7, 9 and 10.

Edited for space and clarity from an interview by staff writer Andy Vuong.

http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_6429201