Merrick Cohen Engages Patricia Russo In Email Exchange - 9-24-04
 

From: M. Cohen [mailto:mlcohen@rcn.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 04, 2004 8:21 AM
To: russo@lucent.com
Cc: Ken Raschke; maryward@lucent.com; jaffe@lucent.com
Subject: Re: Lucent Retiree Benefit Reduction

Pat Russo

CEO

Lucent Technologies

 

Dear Ms. Russo,

 

I am a former Lucent management employee.  I was a system engineer for

nearly 19 years. In this capacity, I focused on strategic market planning for optical,

wireless and internet applications.

 

I am writing to you to briefly voice my sentiment regarding the 2005 healthcare

negotiation with CWA.  I fully understand the tough healthcare issues facing Lucent

and CWA.  Last year, I lost my healthcare benefit for my family.  I was given the option to

pay for group coverage.

 

Losing these benefits was painful.  I constantly worry about what the future will bring

and how Lucent will manage healthcare benefits and their rising costs.

 

Because many management employees lost their healthcare benefits last year, I ask

that this burden now be shared fairly with other retiree groups.  This includes equal treatment for

CWA and other non-management retirees.

 

I frequently think about Lucent and I hope this great company will one day again become an

industry giant.  I wish you success in your endeavors.

 

Rgds,

 

 

Merrick Cohen

mlcohen@rcn.com

Brookline, MA

 

----- Original Message -----

Sent: Thursday, August 12, 2004 6:02 PM

Subject: Re: Lucent Retiree Benefit Reduction

 

Dear Mr. Cohen,

Thank you for your note and your kind wishes for Lucent. As you know, Lucent, its market and the general economy have changed dramatically over the past few years, and we have had to make some very difficult but unfortunately necessary decisions to remain a competitive, viable player in the industry.   

 

The fact is the cost of healthcare for both formerly represented and management retirees is more than the company can afford.  Compounding the problem for us is the fact that most of Lucent's domestic and international competitors have no material liability for retiree health claims.  This is a national problem that impacts Lucent specifically and significantly, and this company has no choice but to solve it.   

 

We will begin our negotiations with the unions in October and will discuss the crucial issue of retiree healthcare.  We look forward to reaching an agreement that recognizes the contributions of our represented employees and supports our ability to succeed in this competitive market.  To do that, we have to address and resolve the issue of the cost of providing healthcare benefits for retirees. 

 

Sincerely,

Patricia Russo

       

 

-----Original Message-----
From: M. Cohen [mailto:mlcohen@rcn.com]
Sent: Friday, September 24, 2004 3:44 PM
To: Russo, Patricia (Patricia)
Cc: Merrick Cohen; Jaffe, Jeffrey M (Jeff); Ward, Mary (Mary)
Subject: Remediation Action For LRO Conflict Resolution

 

Pat Russo

Lucent CEO

 

re: Remediation Action For LRO Conflict Resolution

                                                                                                     September 24, 2004

Dear Ms. Russo,

 

Simply put,  I am puzzled by Lucent's divisive policy on fairness and equal treatment when the

LRO expressed concerns with executive compensation and retiree healthcare benefits.   As I indicated in my

 last email, I too lost dependant care benefits for my family last year and I am concerned about the well being

of the remaining retirees.

 

We all understand your need to curtail costs and increase competitive effectiveness.  We all

want to help you because we know our lives will undoubtedly be influenced immeasurably by

Lucent's success or failure in the future.

 

Imagine the powerful symbolic impact you could generate by volunteering to reduce your

executive compensation by 10%.  That would probably translate into millions

of dollars, a sum which could be used to help many struggling retirees ill-equipped

to cope with escalating healthcare costs  You would still have enough money in your

bank account to live the lifestyle of the rich and famous. And most certainly,  you

would never have to worry about the rising costs of healthcare or where your next meal

will come from.

 

If you are willing to accept my suggestion,  imagine again the sheer volume of

harmonious goodwill you could generate from all those inside and outside Lucent. By

modulating executive compensation to better reflect corporate performance and shareholder

value, and volunteering small pay/bonus cuts, such a policy would strengthen your image as a caring

executive and just as surely eliminate the perception of corporate greed.

 

As I always explain to my young children,  there is only so many hamburgers Bill Gates can

eat.  Wealth has its limit and little can be shared to improve the lives of others.

With that analogy,  please consider taking a leap of faith in yourself that following this path will
ultimately serve you well.

 

Sincerely,

 

Merrick Cohen

Lucent Retiree

Brookline Town Meeting Member

617 731 1058