Certain Benefits Are Protected Under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act

from Pension Fund Notes
December 6, 2019

When the Trustees apply to reduce benefits to try to save the AFM-EPF, some participants have certain protections under current law. If the benefit reduction is approved, benefit payments will not be reduced until January 1, 2021. Following the legal requirements, we will provide individual monthly benefit reduction estimates in the first week of January 2020. However, we know now that many participants will either have no benefit reduction at all, or the size of their reduction will be limited because the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MPRA) provides certain protections for age, disability and small benefits.

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Senators Release Multiemployer Pension Reform Proposal

from Pension Fund Notes
November 21, 2019

U.S. Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) yesterday released a proposal that would provide financial relief to troubled multiemployer pension plans and make some structural changes to the multiemployer pension system. Sens. Grassley and Alexander are chairmen of the Senate Finance and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committees, respectively. We are encouraged to see activity in the Senate to try to address the nationwide multiemployer pension crisis.

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Negotiations Finally Begin with LCSO

After months of refusing to negotiate the very changes in the Master Agreement between Las Colinas Symhony Orchestra (LCSO) and Local 72-147 requested by the LCSO initially in April 2019, LCSO Management finally agreed to meet with the Union on October 30 nearly three weeks after the Union forwarded a proposal to Management to settle all disputes. This was an effort to end a lockout created by Management’s refusal to acknowledge the signed contracts of the Winds, Brass, Percussion, Harp and Keyboard (WBPHK) players last September.

At the October 30 meeting, Management made a verbal counter proposal to the Union’s offer, but fell short of honoring these musicians’ signed contracts.

Following this meeting, the Union delivered a counter proposal to Management on 1 November.

In the subsequent meeting which took place on November 7, Management failed provide a counter proposal for settlement.

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Taking the Fight to the National Labor Relations Board

Underneath the recent actions of the Las Colinas Symphony Managment has been a campaign which undermines
their basic rights under federal law, which are set forth principally in Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act:

Employees have the right to unionize: to self-organization, to form, to join or assist labor organizations

To Bargain Collectively through representatives of their own choosing

To engage in Concerted Activities: that is, when two or more employees act together to improve their terms and conditions of employment

These rights are basic rights of employees, and are central to the power we have to advocate for musicians. We also have the right to seek the protection of them through the processes of the the National Labor Relations Board. Please read more about our ongoing fight to oppose this effort of the LCSO to take away each of these fundamental rights.

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The MPRA Process and Timeline

from Pension Fund Notes
September 19, 2019

As we informed participants in May, the Trustees and the Fund’s advisors are preparing an application to the U.S. Treasury Department to reduce benefits under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MPRA). These benefit reductions are necessary to prevent the AFM-EPF from running out of money to pay benefits in the future. By putting the Fund on stronger financial footing, we are helping to ensure that the Fund will be around to pay benefits to current and future retirees for decades to come.

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U.S. House of Representatives Passes Butch Lewis Act

the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act, also known as the “Butch Lewis Act.” This bill would provide low-interest government loans to struggling multiemployer pension funds, including the AFM-EPF. If necessary, these loans can be coupled with additional financial assistance from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. The bill would provide sufficient money for these funds to pay benefits to current retirees and beneficiaries for life, while allowing the funds to grow back to stronger financial footing. 29 Republicans joined the Democratic majority in voting for the legislation – an encouraging sign.

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Support Locked Out LCSO Musicians in Informational Leaflet

Please join our locked-out musicians together as we let the audience know what is going on – they are NOT on strike, but prohibited by the Management from playing the concerts for which they have been contracted.

Musicians will be handing out fliers before concerts this week. Please come out to support the LCSO Musicians by helping hand out leaflets to patrons at 6:30pm.

Friday 18 October
Granville Arts Center
5th and Austin Streets, Garland, TX

Saturday 19 October
Irving Arts Center
3333 North MacArthur Blvd., Irving, TX

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Las Colinas Symphony Musicians Locked Out

As of late September, Management of the Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra (also performing as the Garland Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Arlington) has locked out its Winds, Brass, Percussion players & Harpist for the 2019-20 Season as a result of Local 72-147 filing grievances on behalf of the orchestra’s members. The season is to open October 17, 18 and 19 with concerts in Arlington, Garland and Irving.

In the last few years of a longtime relationship with the Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra, tensions have come to the surface as Local 72-147 has taken action to represent musicians of the orchestra in various circumstances. This pattern continued as the spring turned into summer this year as Individual contracts were issued to musicians with non-bargained modifications, a dramatic staff change took place at the LCSO office, and some disturbing actions have been taken by the LCSO adversely affecting musicians.

After a contentious negotiation during the summer of 2018, the goal of the Players Committee and the Union was to build a better and productive relationship with the LCSO, with the appointment of new Executive Director Darren Rich. The musicians regularly expressed their hopes and aspirations

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