News Release Lucent Retirees Organization
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2004
Lucent Retirees Organization Claims Uncovered Document Is Proof
Lucent Technologies Improperly Eliminated Benefit For Surviving Spouses
NEW YORK – The Lucent Retirees Organization claims that a 1913 document it has uncovered is proof that Lucent Technologies should not have cancelled a benefit for surviving spouses of retirees.
The LRO maintains that it has traced the “DNA” of Lucent’s pension and benefits plans to a document issued by AT&T on January 1, 1913.
“Based on the clear language in the document, Lucent acted inappropriately when it terminated the death benefit for 30,000 management retirees,” said Ken Raschke, LRO president. “We believe the document’s mandate that changes shall not be made without the beneficiaries consent still applies to Lucent today.”
The death benefit, eliminated in February 2003, was equivalent to one-year’s pay to the surviving spouse of an individual who retired before 1998. Three class action lawsuits filed by retirees challenging Lucent’s decision to eliminate the death benefit are pending in US District Court in New Jersey.
Raschke, a 1989 retiree from AT&T Network Systems (Lucent’s predecessor), said he requested in a letter to Lucent Chairman and CEO Patricia Russo that Lucent restore the death benefit. Russo responded that Lucent would not comment on the death benefit because the issue is under litigation.
“Lucent’s inappropriate cancellation of the death benefit raises not only questions about non-compliance with a cornerstone legal document, but introduces questions about the potential of unsatisfied fiduciary responsibilities as well,” Raschke said.
“We are disappointed that Lucent is unwilling to do the right thing and restore the death benefit instead of dragging out the process in the courts while time adds more widows and widowers,” he said.
Raschke added that a number of surviving spouses are enduring financial hardships following the deaths their husbands and wives during the past 17 months. “The money from the death benefit was being counted on by many retirees to provide for the financial well being of their spouses.”
Raschke said he hopes the attorneys for the retirees who have filed the death benefit lawsuits will be able to use the 1913 document that originated the American Telephone and Telegraph Pension and Benefits Program to win the cases for their retired clients. The document was found in the archives of a telephone company that was once part of AT&T’s Bell System. Lucent was spun off from AT&T in 1996.
For More Information Contact:
Ken Raschke Ed Beltram
LRO President LRO Communications Director
Phone: 336-765-9765 Phone: 719-687-6157