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The Association of U S WEST Retirees (AUSWR) is an alliance of two state telephone retiree organizations joined together for the purpose of protecting the welfare of all current and future U S West and Qwest retirees. Each state organization is governed by a board of directors, elected by their members.
Although the two remaining state organizations are 501c(5) non-profit tax-exempt organizations, contributions to them are not deductible for federal income tax purposes. Documents concerning the tax-exempt status of the state organizations are on file at their principal offices.
To preserve and
protect those pensions and
Association of US West Retirees
History of Accomplishments
The purpose of the Association is to insure that all who retired from U S West (its predecessors and its successor) receive the benefits to which they are entitled. A number of the Associations actions have led to improvements for those who retired from those companies.
1. Obtained a legally enforceable health care guarantee for all who retired from U S West prior to 1991 and for a certain group who retired in 1992. Those retirees are guaranteed (1) medical and dental coverage for life; (2) not to have to pay premiums for their company provided health care coverage; (3) to be reimbursed for the full amount of their Medicare Part B premiums regardless of the size of those premiums; (4) and to never be required to join an HMO or PPO. For more details see “Plan Continuance” in the health care Summary Plan Descriptions. [1996 – Phelps v. U S West lawsuit]
2. Forced U S West to return $8 million to the pension trust fund which the Association believed was improperly withdrawn by the company. [1998 - Unger v. U S West lawsuit]
3. Established a network of volunteer retirees (one or more in each of the 14 states) called Retiree Advocates who help their fellow retirees resolve benefit problems. The Advocate network was established because, as the company transferred its benefit functions to outside contractors, alarming numbers of retirees complained to the Association about mistreatment or neglect. The purpose of the Advocates is to insure that all U S West retirees receive the benefits to which they are entitled. Disputes which cannot be resolved with the benefits contractors can be referred to an Advocate Ombudsman who may bypass the contractors if necessary and take the issues direct to Qwest’s human resources staff. The Advocates have helped solve large numbers of retiree complaints. Of equal importance have been numerous changes made by Qwest and its contractors based on suggestions from the Advocates. 
4. Persuaded Qwest to put on hold its plan to terminate the Sickness Death Benefit in 2003. The Association has since filed suit in Denver Federal Court (Kerber v. Qwest) seeking a guarantee of the Death Benefit for all who retired before January 1, 2004 and are receiving a service or disability pension annuity. 
5. Persuaded Qwest to give pre-1984 retirees free Qwest long distance telephone service when the company stopped reimbursement of those retirees’ AT&T long distance charges. 
6. Negotiated an agreement with the company that has resulted in a one-time cash payment plus unlimited lifetime Qwest long distance telephone service for those retirees who lost their telephone concession effective January 1, 2004 because their local telephone service was being provided by an “independent telephone company”. [2005 – Colvin v. Qwest lawsuit]
7. The Association has actively supported several proposals, sponsored by Association members who own Qwest stock that have been voted on by Qwest shareowners at the company’s annual meetings. The Association supported the proposals because it believed their adoption would benefit the company’s retirees. It supported two shareowner proposals in 2001, two proposals in 2002, three in 2003, two in 2004, and two in 2005. Several of the proposals have resulted in governance changes at the company.