Verizon retirees challenge 'golden parachute' severance payment program

Verizon Communications' (NYSE: VZ) retirees group BellTel has launched their 17th annual shareowners' reform campaign by introducing a proposal that would require "golden parachute" severance payments be approved by shareholders.

One executive that could benefit from the company's "golden parachute" severance plan is Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam.

If McAdam were to be fired, whether or not there is a change in control, he would get about $37.3 million in termination payments, seven times his 2014 base salary plus short-term bonus, according to Verizon's 2015 Proxy.

Leaders of BellTel have asked Verizon to get shareholder approval for any new or renewed "golden parachute" severance payments for executive officers exceeding three times the sum of the executive's base salary plus target short-term bonus.

Under the BellTel proposal, the "total value" of "severance or termination payments" would include "any equity awards if vesting is accelerated, or a performance condition waived, due to termination."

"We believe the severance approval policy must include the total cost of termination payments, including the estimated value of accelerating restricted stock and performance shares that otherwise would not have been earned or vested until after the Verizon executive's termination," said John Brennan, president of BellTel, in a release.  

BellTel has had some luck in getting its proposals through in the past, having achieved 11 reforms since being formed in 1996. A 59 percent majority of shares voting supported BellTel's original proposal to require shareholder approval for "golden parachutes" exceeding 2.99 times the executive's base pay plus bonus in 2003, for example.

For more:
- see the release

Related articles:
Verizon retirees issue challenge to board, senior execs
Verizon wins court battle for $7.4 pension transfer sale
Verizon retiree pension complaint becomes class action suit
Verizon retirees lose bid to block pension transfer