231 Pinetuck Lane Winston-Salem, NC 27104 Phone: 336-765-9765
June 4, 2007
Ms. Patricia F. Russo
Chief Executive Officer
54 rue la Boetie
Paris 75008, France
The Lucent Retirees Organization commends Alcatel-Lucent on its coordinated campaign with the CWA and IBEW that resulted in gaining legislation on a key tax code change that permits companies to transfer more than one year’s worth of retiree healthcare costs from excess pension assets.
This is very good news to the formerly represented retirees, many of whom are LRO members. They are very pleased with the new law that will allow additional retiree healthcare funding through a VEBA (Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association) trust fund when pension assets are sufficiently overfunded, as is the case with the Lucent pension plan for union employees and retirees. The CWA’s and IBEW’s goals are commendable to see that the VEBA trust fund grows to cover future retiree healthcare costs and limits the company from shifting more healthcare costs to retirees.
The win in Congress makes it possible for Alcatel-Lucent to now offset healthcare cost for represented retirees who represent the lion’s share of your corporate healthcare costs in the USA. The LRO would like to know whether this major corporate savings will result in a reprieve from the financial burdens that management retirees and their dependents have experienced in recent years in the form of huge increases in their healthcare costs?
Thousands of management retirees have lost healthcare coverage for their dependents. All retirees have suffered significant increases in monthly premiums, experienced higher deductibles and co-pay amounts, and have had to shoulder major increases in prescription drug costs. The management retirees you once depended on to effectively run your company believe they are due some relief now that your corporate healthcare costs will be substantially reduced when the VEBA for the formerly represented retirees is created.
We submit that Alcatel-Lucent can no longer claim that retiree healthcare is causing competitive harm. There is now no justification for a French company that protects its French employees and retirees to continue to throw its U.S. management retirees to the wolves financially. Alcatel-Lucent, who gained merger authorization from the U.S. government, must begin to show it has a conscience and an obligation to protect the healthcare benefits earned by USA retirees and promised to them for their retirement years.
The LRO hopes that Alcatel-Lucent can find the moral compass that the old Lucent lost during the frustrating years when the company was drowning in debt, had poor product offerings and was besieged by allegations of wrong doings. Demonstrate to your management retirees that the new Alcatel-Lucent is truly a different type of company and cares about the well being of its retirees in the USA.
The LRO would welcome the establishment of a dialogue with Alcatel-Lucent about the future healthcare benefits of Lucent management retirees. I contend that given the opportunity for a conversation with leaders of your USA team, we can identify healthcare benefit issues to discuss without intruding on the pending Section 420 lawsuit. The LRO is not a party in this healthcare benefits case nor does the LRO have standing in the eyes of the court. I would appreciate receiving a call from one of your USA leaders to discuss the potential for engaging in a meaningful discourse on the future of healthcare benefits for Lucent management retirees and their dependents.