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Yorktown Man Part of Bell Retirees' Fight to Hold Verizon Accountable

Jack Cohen from Yorktown Heights is the Executive Vice President of the Association of BellTel Retirees Inc., one of the country's more influential groups of retirees. 

This month the group launched its 16th consecutive annual proxy campaign aimed at making Verizon Communications Inc.'s senior executives and Board of Directors more accountable to shareholders.

Here's part of the group's mission statement from its website:

Many retirees from throughout corporate America have been set adrift by their former employers. The over 128,000 former union and management members of the Association of BellTel Retirees, representing the 230,000 Verizon retirees, have banded together to fight such corporate and executive arrogance and lack of respect for the retiree and active employee body. 

"I got involved because I feel that termination compensation for a CEO estimated at $37.1 million, and equivalent to over 7.1 times his 2013 base salary plus target short-term bonus, is an obscenity," Cohen said. "This is especially true in view of their actions over the past few years, including Union Busting, Pension Stripping, and forcing retirees to drop their health plans to retain their doctors.  This doesn't even include the horrors caused to retirees by the Directory spinoff that went bankrupt." 

This year's proxy campaign has two resolutions: 

A)     Have Verizon’s board obtain shareholder approval of senior executive severance or termination payments above a specified threshold;

B)     Amend the company’s bylaws to allow shareholders to nominate a limited number of directors to Verizon’s board so that Verizon management will not have sole power to select all board members.

BellTel members have proposed a series of successful corporate governance and executive compensation changes dating back to when the company was Bell Atlantic.  

The retiree group has achieved an unprecedented 11 victories in 16 years, three by a majority of shares voted --Executive Severance (59% support in 2003); Say on Pay (50.2% support in 2007); and Proxy Access Proposal (53.25% support in 2013).  Another eight proposals were negotiated off the proxy ballot by the company after shareholders showed strong support for the reforms proposed by the Association.  


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