OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Windstream Corp. wants a federal judge to affirm its authority to reduce retiree benefits, even when the people affected retired from other phone companies that Windstream acquired over the years.

The retirees argue that Little Rock, Ark.-based Windstream and the companies it acquired promised to maintain retirement benefits.

A federal judge will hear arguments in the case on Dec. 15.

In court documents, Windstream argues it has an absolute right to make any changes it wants to the retiree benefit plans. The retirees counter that they earned those benefits by working for the company at least 15 years.

Windstream provides voice lines and broadband Internet service in 16 states, including Oklahoma.

A Windstream spokesman and an attorney for the company did not immediately respond to messages left today.

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