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PENSION
  BUYOUT
      CORNER

In this column, the LRO will keep you up to date on what we know about the recent A-L announcement.





A-L Announcement of Pension Buyout
8/8/14 update

In May of this year, Alcatel-Lucent announced its intent to offer a pension buyout to ap-proximately 45,000 retirees and related beneficiaries in the U.S. management pension plan. The offer is expected to be made in 2015.

In a letter dated June 30, 2014 to Mr. John Hickey, Vice President Global Benefits for Alcatel-Lucent, the LRO raised a number of questions for clarification regarding this an-nouncement. Many of the questions submitted were the direct result of inquiries from our membership.

On August 5, Mr. Hickey responded that A-L is still in the early stages of defining the exact parameters of the offering, and therefore, is not yet in a position to respond to all of the questions we raised. He did, however, provide clarification in a few areas and these are summarized below:

  • While no firm dates have yet been established, a best guess is that the offer will be made around mid-year 2015 (June/July) with payments scheduled later in the year (Q4).

  • A-L has not yet finalized establishing the targeted population from within the classes of retirees in the management plan. Once established, 45,000 will be the targeted number to receive the offer, not the target for acceptances.

  • A-L has not yet reviewed the mortality table to be used.

  • A-L will use interest rates consistent with IRS rules.

  • This offering will not impact supplemental pensions received by some senior managers. The offering will be limited to the qualified pension plan.

While this is a limited response, the LRO understands that it is early in the process and A-L has much to do to finalize offer parameters. We have an excellent working relation-ship with Mr. Hickey and fully expect that as work progresses to define the plan, we will have more detailed responses to our questions. We will post information to our web-site as we receive further clarifications.

Joe Dombrowski, President,
Lucent Retiree Organization


NEW WEBSITE FEATURES

THE HISTORY CORNER

History Corner pieces in our recent newsletters (THE LRO CONNECTION) can be accessed at any time by clicking on the HISTORY CORNER tab on the navigation bar.. We plan to continue with additional pieces on WECO, BTL, and TELETYPE and persons of note. If you have historical information, send to Gary Reichow at greichow@hotmail.com


Information on the Passing of Retirees

Under the "In Memoriam" tab located at the top of this page, the LRO lists the submitted names of recently deceased individuals and, where possible, provides a linkag e to an official obituary. Information required and the form to list an individual is contained on the "In Memoriam" page. It is our hope that family members and friends will want to share the passing with former colleagues and take advantage of this service.


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KEEPING YOUR ADDRESS CURRENT WITH A-L

Some of us may have no ongoing need for contact with Lucent whereas others receive healthcare information, W2s, 1099s and other mailings. It is always important to let Lucent know when you change addresses. This would be a good time to do it if you have moved to a new location. Contact Lucent at Alcatel-Lucent Pension Service Center(PSC) @ 866-429-5764.


DISNEY AND MORE

Retirees can use the discounts for a myriad of entertainment opportunities that are available to active A-L employees. Just go to Tickets at Work, the website is www.ticketsatwork.com, and enter company code ALCATEL (all in caps). You can also contact them by phone at 1-800-331-6483.


ALU AVIS CAR RENTAL DISCOUNT

Alcatel-Lucent advises the LRO that retirees are eligible to use the A-L Avis Car Rental discount. Below, is the link that can be used and it will provide the access code to make reservations. However, note that the insurances are not included for personal travel. When renting a car from Avis, just identify yourself as an A-L retiree. https://www.avis.com/car-rental/profile/go.ac?B959890


NRLN Action Alert: Pass Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act

The NRLN is asking you to email the NRLN’s sample letters to your U.S. Representative and Senators to urge him or her to work to pass the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act (H.R. 1102) and (S. 117). If passed, the Act would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate with pharmaceutical manufacturers the prices that may be charged to Medicare Part D prescription drug plan sponsors and Medicare Advantage organizations for covered Part D drugs. This would mean more affordable prescription drugs for seniors and would save Medicare up to $156 billion over the next 10 years. Click here to access the sample letters.

Adobe Reader® is required to view some documents. Please download it here.  


A-L has announced Fall enrollment dates and schedules of distribution for the 2015 health plan. Click here to see Benefits announcements

NRLN Scores Major Advance Towards Retiree Protection Against Pension Plan De-risking

The LRO has received a few emails asking about the National Retiree Legislative Networks role in a letter that Senators Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) and Ron Wyden Chairman, sent to top officials at four federal agencies on Oct. 22. The letter (click here) asked the officials to study and provide guidance regarding retire pension plan risks caused by corporate de-risking of defined benefit pension plans.

As Bill Kadereit reported in his NRLN President’s Forum message on Oct. 23 to NRLN grassroots advocates, Marta Bascom, NRLN Executive Director, and Michael Calabrese, NRLN strategic advisor, led the way within a group of advocates to develop a proposed letter that incorporated the NRLN’s list of proposals. The advocacy group included the NRLN, the Pension Rights Center, AARP and AFL-CIO.

Much of what is in the letter had been contained in President Kadereit’s testimony to the ERISA Advisory Council in August 2013 and presented to the Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA) staff in Washington in July 2014. Bob Martina, LRO Legislative Affairs Director and NRLN Vice President—Grassroots, participated in the July meeting.

The Harkin / Wyden letter opens the door for a full review of all practices that can bring harm to retirees affected by corporate de-risking and creates a parallel framework to protect plan participants. The NRLN’s proposals embodies the plaintiffs’ complaints in the Verizon retirees’ litigation and before that consequences faced by retirees from General Motors and Motorola. In addition it will address concerns of Chrysler, CenturyLink, Alcatel-Lucent and many other retirees that face or may face de-risking actions. The LRO is proud to be one of the over 30 different retiree organizations from other companies across the U.S. that are pulling together on the de-risking issue.

The LRO commends Ms. Bascom and Mr. Calabrese and the entire advocate team for initiating and supporting the letter. The LRO views the letter as a positive step toward achieving more effective protection for pension plan participants. We are grateful to Senators Harkin and Wyden and their respective committee staffs for their understanding of how important it is to protect retirees when a pension plan sponsor takes a de-risking action of a lump sum pension buyout offer or the purchase of an annuity to replace a pension.

The LRO will continue to support the NRLN’s work with the staffs of the committees and follow-ups with the federal agencies to be sure that the momentum gained from the Senators’ letter leads to legislation and/or regulations that protect retirees in de-risking.

Joe Dombrowski, President
Lucent Retirees Organization


Video presentations from the New Jersey meetings are now available

If you couldn't get to the recent meetings, you can see the presentations here. Click on the following links:

Joe Dombrowsky does introductions and agenda

Bob Martina discusses Grassroots support

Ron Hoth discusses Healthcare and Lucent benefits

Frank Minter and Al Duscher discuss pensions and the coming buyout

Frank Minter and Al Duscher Q & A


LRO Members Turn Out for New Jersey Member Meetings

Was it the delightful fall weather? Probably not.

More likely it was important changes ahead for Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) and its retiree benefit programs that drew inquisitive crowds to two meetings organized by the Lucent Retirees Organization (LRO) in Tinton Falls, N.J. on October 6 and 7.

A total of 345 retired Lucent employees (including 90 spouses) gathered to hear the latest on how to reach out to Congress, and on changes to retiree health benefits, pension funding security and what is known about the pension buyout ALU announced for 2015.

A camera crew was on hand to record the presentations, and the LRO plans to make the content available through the LRO website. Meantime, here are highlights from the two days:

Attendees were welcomed by LRO President Joe Dombrowski, who outlined the program and explained how the LRO works through the National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN) to inform Congress on issues important to retirees—work the LRO can’t do directly. Joe then introduced Bob Martina, an LRO Board Member who serves as liaison with the NRLN.

Sound Off to Congress . . . It’s Easy

Bob Martina made these key points:

  • The NRLN represents more than 2 million  retirees from more than 100 different companies with 31 retiree organizations —potentially a powerful force to persuade Congress about what matters to retirees.  The LRO is well represented in the NRLN.
  • The key is to communicate and make your views known. A new, improved NRLN website makes it easy to find position papers that outline the key issues, see how your elected officials have voted, and respond to NRLN Action Alerts by quickly sending letters to voice your views—all with just a few clicks. A guide is provided here. These include Facebook and Twitter, making contact even easier.
  • Bob showed how the site works, and encouraged the audience to join LRO members who are acting to help Congress understand the critical importance of such issues as pension funding and healthcare benefits.  All LRO members should respond to all NRLN Action Alerts .

New Choices in Healthcare

LRO benefits specialist Ron Hoth discussed changes that face retirees during the 2014 Open Enrollment Period:

  • Medicare-eligible retirees have the flexibility to drop ALU coverage if they identify better choices elsewhere. They can also return to ALU coverage in the future, depending on timing. State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) program resources (website and toll-free number) can help with information.
  • Those under 65 years of age Hoth advised to shop the market, including the federal Healthcare.gov website.
  • Hoth also mentioned that the ALU benefits team has been helpful and easy to work with.

Pension Funding: Solid

LRO pension specialist Frank Minter reviewed the ALU management pension plan, including steps the company has taken that have strengthened the plan’s funding level.

  • The company has transferred thousands of employees (and their pension resources) into the management plan. This has strengthened plan funding .
  • Increases in the “discount rate” or projected earnings rate for plan resources have also boosted the calculated funding level to as high as 119 percent of what is required.
  • Bottom line: Minter said the ALU plan is well funded, and more robust than many.

The Lump Sum Buyout: Stay Tuned!

What was probably the most-anticipated topic opened with a caution: the LRO will not provide members with investment advice in connection with the lump sum pension buyout ALU has announced it will offer to 45,000 retirees in 2015. Short of such financial guidance, however, the LRO will provide all the information available. At this point, much is unknown.

LRO pension specialist Al Duscher outlined the reasons companies pursue “pension de-risking” strategies, including selling pensions to insurance companies and offering lump sum buyouts.

  • Why do de-risking? Duscher said risks, such as the possibility pension fund earnings could prove inadequate or retirees could longer than expected, create uncertainty for companies.
  • He said ALU has taken several measures to address these issues, including redesigning the plan, freezing outlays, using a conservative investment strategy and transferring people and money into the plan.
  • These steps, coupled with the plan’s initial solid funding, mean there’s enough cash available to take additional steps, including the announced cash buyout offer, or transferring the fund to an insurance company or other firm, which would then provide annuities. (ALU has announced a buyout offer, but not a transfer of the plan balance.)
  • Who will get the cash offer, and for how much? Duscher said those details remain unknown. ALU is to announce details in 2015, probably in the first half of the year.
  • Finally, is taking a buyout a good idea? Duscher there’s no one answer. The answer depends on each pensioner’s situation: the amount of the offer, their age, health, expected longevity, income resources, need for cash, ability to manage money and more.
  • He also cautioned that:
    • Alu is transferring longevity risk and investment risks through the lump sum to retirees.
    • A significant percent of retirees will live beyond the age used to calculate the lump sum.
    • To make up for this, retirees need investment returns up to 50 percent higher than that used in lump sum calculation.

A lively question and answer session followed each presentation. Videos of the presentations and q and a sessions can be seen using the links above.

  • Reported by Walt Greenwood

  • MEDIA NEWS FOR RETIREES

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    ALCATEL-LUCENT PRESS RELEASES

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    Is Your Pension Imperiled?
    By John Wasik; Forbes ~ Oct 01, 2014

    Alcatel-Lucent Gets Down To Business With WOW!
    By MCN Staff; Multichannel News ~ Oct 01, 2014

    It's Official: Alcatel-Lucent Sells Enterprise Business To China Huaxin
    By Kristin Bent; CRN ~ Oct 01, 2014


    LOCAL RETIREE NEWS

    WECO SAGE is a group formed by computer pioneers who worked for Western Electric Company in the 1950s and 1960s installing an Air Defense System for the United States Air Force. The members of this Group have maintained their personal, and in some cases professional, relationships for over 50 years. The Group, whose members once numbered in the hundreds, meet on an annual basis at different locations throughout the country. The 2014 meeting of the WECO-SAGE Alumni Group was held from May 15th through the 18th at the Hampton Inn Historic District in downtown Bradenton, Florida. Contact Ron Trettau.


    Club WECO-AT&T-Bell Labs-Lucent Technologies-Teletype-NCR-ALU. This group is intended primarily as a forum to connect (network) and maintain communication between past and/or current members. Our reunion was held on Friday July 18th, 2014, at the Mullens Bar and Grill in Lisle (Naper blvd. and Warrenville Rd.) Video of the event is here. Contact Jim Simak. Our winter reunion will probably be Friday December 12th.......default is Mullens unless you hear otherwise.


    eX TELETYPE is for ex-Teletype Employees to keep in touch. Teletype Corp. was located in Skokie, IL and Little Rock, AK. The 52nd Annual Christmas Luncheon of the TELETYPE LIFE MEMBER CLUB will be held on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at PRZYBYLO House of the White Eagle, 6839 Milwaukee Ave. Niles, IL  60714 Contact John Furno.


    lucent5-5 is for Lucent retirees who took the special 5+5 voluntary retirement on July 13, 2001 (or wish they could have!). Its purpose is to keep in touch, to help provide support for working with the Lucent Pension folks, and to talk about Lucent in general. To subscribe, send an email to lucent5-5-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.


    PCLUCENTALUM This group was set up to facilitate communication between ex-Lucent employees in Northern California. Send email to pclucentalum@yahoogroups.com