Qwest, retirees battle over life insurance

A group of Qwest Communications retirees who sued the company over dwindling life insurance benefits and were poised to expand their suit into a class action, now say Qwest is threatening to end their benefits. Qwest said in a recent legal filing regarding the case that a class action lawsuit could wipe out benefits for all retirees, a statement the retirees contend amounts to a threat.

The lawsuit originated from the Association of U.S. West Retirees in 2006, and contained the names of just seven plaintiffs. They protested Qwest's reduction of life insurance benefits to a minimum of $10,000, from what had been a $20,000 minimum for survivors of those who retired before 1996 and $30,000 for survivors of those who retired later.

As retirement benefits have begun to weigh economically on many U.S. corporations, such lawsuits and battles between retirees and their former employers have become increasingly common.

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