By John “Jack” Brennan
To all my fellow Verizon retirees let me state clearly that 2016 will be a very remarkable year for all of us. I’ll explain.
Springtime in New York: On April 19 we will be holding the Association’s 20th annual member meeting in Tarrytown just a short trip from New York City, Southern Connecticut, Northern New Jersey and the entire Hudson Valley. We selected this location due to its close proximity to thousands of our members. If you have not been to one of these wonderful gatherings before, 2016 is a perfect time to start.
Let me put this annual reunion and member meeting in perspective. We regularly achieve crowds of 200 to 500 retirees and spouses, many who join us the evening before the event to catch up with old colleagues with whom we worked shoulder-to-shoulder during what some consider the best years of our lives. Recapturing that old camaraderie is truly magical.
For two decades now we have held this event in a rotating list of states in close proximity to where our retirees live, because we want and need your active involvement and participation. We’ve taken this important annual event to Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and are delighted to return again to New York.
We have some members who have attended every single meeting regardless of location, plus other familiar faces that rarely miss it. On page 4 are instructions on how to RSVP and I enthusiastically hope to see all of you who can make it.
12th Time a Charm: Eleven times your Association has challenged the corporate excesses at Verizon and won. We have done this successfully via the annual shareowner proxy ballot and we will do it again in 2016.
The idea to leverage our collective shareowner rights evolved after our first year in existence, when NYNEX’s CEO refused to recognize the Association as an advocate for 3,000 retirees who signed a petition demanding a COLA that was guaranteed in their working years. Then the lightbulb went on… The company CEO could not duck out on responding to shareowners, so the Association became a NYNEX, then Bell Atlantic and eventually a Verizon stock owner!
In 2016 we are petitioning shareowners to close a rather new loophole that once again allows excessive executive golden parachutes. The fact is, we have fought the company multiple times over excessive bonuses, compensation and golden goodbyes and won. Time after time the company agrees to change their ways, only to find a new loophole.
Standing at the Highest Court in America: Over several years our federal litigation has sought to confront Verizon over the way it spun off the pensions of 41,000 retirees and may do the same to thousands more in the near future. In the coming months we expect to hear more about our pension spinoff litigation (Pundt –vs – Verizon), now in the hands of the United States Supreme Court.
Let me repeat that: Your Association-led litigation to protect all of our fellow retirees’ pensions is now being reviewed and considered by the nine justices of the highest court in America!
Saying that takes my breath away, considering the volume and magnitude of legal work and accomplishment it took just to get there. And to say that our doggedness has confounded the company and the U.S. employee benefits industry is an understatement.
My Appeal: As I began, this is a very remarkable year for all of us. We are not just going through the motions but fighting tooth and nail for you. Each of these and other critical strategies are powered by your donations. While Verizon has an unlimited ability to spend, we do not. Please be generous in supporting the actions of the Association of BellTel Retirees today.