Dear President Bush,   

I am a 64 1/2 year old, 1995 retiree from AT&T (now Lucent Technologies) and am concerned as to how your government leadership plans to protect pension trust funds and benefit funds for retirees. My letter to you is a request for your support of an audit of Lucent. Specifically, that you contact the Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao, and ask her department to conduct or have conducted on her behalf, an audit of Lucent's pension trust & benefit funds and publish the findings to Mr. K.(Ken) Raschke of the LRO. (Lucent Retirees Organization)
 
Please allow me to explain the "why" of my request of you. Recently, Mr. Raschke, on my behalf, asked Lucent Technologies to allow for an independent audit of our pension fund in order to give us 127,000 retirees assurance that our fund is on sound footing and secure. Lucent rejected the request. Then, on June 13 of this year, Mr. Raschke, sent a letter to Secretary Chao requesting advice and support. She has not responded to Mr. Raschke as of this date.

I sincerely hope you will allow me the opportunity to give you a little "sound bite" of my personal account, but also one that is representative of thousands like me. I'd like nothing more than to feel "warm & fuzzy" in my declining years and trust Lucent is managing my pension fund, misc. benefits and medical benefit funds appropriately. But recent events have left me uncomfortable and untrusting. At nearly 65 years of age, the last thing I'm looking for is a "new career path" or having to spend my life savings in medical bills. I worked hard and long to protect my investments and assure my and my families well being. However, in the past 2 years I have been informed by Lucent of significant retiree benefit reductions. None of which were a result of my poor productivity, lack of sales, lousy quality, incompetent management style, a dissatisfied customer or a lack of business. I was simply an easy cost cutting target. Not on the roles, no voice and no recourse -- how sweet !! When I retired I was told I could "expect" certain compensations, for life, in return for my 32 years of dedicated service to the health & welfare of the business. Actually, it was with the help of company paid analysts that made us so comfortable in my and my wife's retirement decision. We were aided by them in filling out investment forms, developed life style budgetary charts, were advised of suggested income levels to support that life style and part of the formula was always the basic retirement income, personal finances, investments, insurance payouts if an untimely death occurred, medical benefits and monies a surviving spouse could expect to receive. So, when we agreed to retire it was with  specific retirement compensation documented in my separation papers as determined in the workshop seminars sponsored by the company. Sounds great ! Now, in the past 2 year period, my personal medical benefit payment has escalated from zero dollars to $156.21 each month. My dental plan has escalated from zero dollars to $62.00 each month. My death benefit, payable to my spouse, which was 1 year of salary at the time of retirement, was simply eliminated by a letter. Medicare, part "B" compensation was eliminated at the stroke of the CEO's pen. The explanation given for each eliminated or reduced item was Lucent couldn't support the expense. We read quite often of  companies which  renege on their pensions or benefits or both. How can I help but worry when I experience the first shoe dropping and see the report from the Securities and Exchange Commission that it levied a $25 million penalty against Lucent for its "lack of cooperation" in the SEC's investigation of securities fraud charges against Lucent ?

Simply stated, the monies in the pension fund and benefit plans was paid for by retirees for retirees. We have a right to know how our money is invested as well as the right to have a voice in the company if we disagree with a certain direction. Not that we will implement a change, but that we are of value and have a say in the monies we invested for our future. What could be a very simple and painless process,but apparently unacceptable by Lucent management, is to have an audit of those funds by an independent firm and it's findings be ---- all is well. Is Lucent being stubborn, hiding something or is the tail wagging the dog ? If unchecked and unchallenged, have I seen the end of my benefit reductions ? I seriously doubt it.

In closing, and in reference to my opening paragraph, what are you going to do to help those of us that have "served our time" in the support of commerce & the country the better part of our lives ?  What are you going to do to see that the plan continues to have sufficient assets to guarantee payment of my pension & benefits even if the business closes it's doors or opts not to pay their retirees ?? 
             
I look forward to your reply so I can best cast my vote on Election Day.
 
Sincerely, 

Jim Peltier
jim.peltier@sbcglobal.net