November 24th, 2020


Over the Last few years, Locals like New York and Philadelphia have swept out their old leadership for a completely new crew. These musicians, fed up with the cronyism, corruption and old boy networks, replaced the administrations completely, or almost so.

Now it’s the time for that same change at Local 47.

The election for Local 47 is in just a couple of weeks and the choice is easy.

There are only two options:

  1. The RMA party, finally taking over the Local completely, and serving only the well connected.


  • The “MUSICIANS FOR ALL MUSICIANS” party led by Stephanie O’Keefe, whose diversity will guarantee that all Local 47 members will receive the same fair and equitable treatment, bar none.

The RMA Ticket is headed by Marc Sazar, who has been in the top leadership of the RMA for over a decade and has had a hand in the practices that led to a gross reduction in recording work throughout the AFM and the sorry state of our pension because of that work loss.



Stephanie O’Keefe


Rick Baptist


Danita Ng-Poss


Michael Lehmann Boddicker

Bonnie Janofsky (Delegate)

Douglas V. Tornquist


Susan G. Chapman

Pam Gates (Delegate)

Norman S. Ludwin (1st Alt. Delegate)

Phil O’Connor (Delegate)

Carl Vincent (2nd Alt. Delegate


Rachel Berry

Elizabeth Hedman

Marisa McLeod

Bernie D. Nelson

David A. Pittel

Linda Gall Silva

Walter Edward Simonsen

This is the crew (almost all new) that can lead the Local into a better, fairer future for all Local 47 members. This is something we’ve not had in a long time, and sorely need. Imagine officers and a board NOT controlled by the RMA. Here is your chance Your voice has never been so important. Use it!

Please visit their website.

Here you can get all the details you need, Print out the Request for Vote by Mail Absentee Ballot form. And mail it in.


The COMMITTEE is proud to endorse Stephanie O’Keefe and her MUSICIANS for ALL MUSICIANS party. It’s what the LA Local needs and the sea change the Local members want and deserve.

Musicians Exemption / NY Concert

April 17th, 2020

…Absolutely guaranteed anonymity – Former Musician’s Union officer

…The one voice of reason in a sea of insanity – Nashville ‘first call’
scoring musician

…Allows us to speak our minds without fear of reprisal – L.A. Symphonic musician

…Reporting issues the Musicians Union doesn’t dare to mention – National touring musician


I. Musicians to Be Exempt From California ‘Gig Economy’ Assembly Bill 5

by Jem Aswad (Variety) Apr 17, 2020

Multiple music industry organizations announced today that an agreement has been reached with California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and Majority Leader Ian Calderon on pending amendments to California’s “Gig Economy” Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) that will provide relief to the majority of affected music professionals, including recording artists, musicians, composers, songwriters and vocalists. Upon the Legislature’s reconvening, amendments will change prior language in AB5 that created obstacles for music professionals securing work.

Assembly Bill 5 is largely aimed at “gig economy” jobs such as ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft and is designed to make it more difficult for such companies to classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees.

Assemblywoman Gonzalez introduced legislation in January to continue working on the issues affecting musicians and a variety of other industries, following the passage of AB5 which established a three-part ABC test for determining employment status. The new language has been agreed upon by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), Music Artists Coalition (MAC), Independent Music Professionals United (IMPU), Songwriters of North America (SONA), American Federation of Musicians (AFM), the Recording Academy, International Allegiance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) and Teamsters.

According to the announcement, the language of the pending amendment states that most music professionals will once again be able to follow the Borello test (which defines whether a person is an employer) to determine employment classification for both live performances and studio recordings. The language also specifically provides for unions to continue to organize the work of recording artists, musicians, singers, and others.

Jordan Bromley on the Board of the Music Artists Coalition led the negotiations on behalf of the music industry.

“I am proud to be a part of this amazing consensus. Having worked personally with every stakeholder in the process for the last year, I can say that each elected official, coalition, association, union and individual working on behalf of their constituency truly cared about not only the members they work to protect, but also our industry as a whole,” said Bromley. “By reclassifying our economy of independent contractors into employees, the law ran the risk of making an employer of every independent artist making music in their basement, or garage band making ends meet to succeed in music. We kept the economy intact, but provided for any musician, recording artist or vocalist who got paid less than minimum wage to be able to appeal to the state for compensation.”

“Whether you are in a union or not, protecting the rights of working people has been the primary goal throughout this entire process,” said John Acosta, president of the American Federation of Musicians Local 47. “Finding a model that fits the unique needs of musicians has been no small task, and we are grateful to everyone involved for reaching a solution that will serve to benefit musicians and all workers throughout California.”

“I am grateful for the extraordinary work of the entire music community in California. This agreement once again reflects that we are strongest when we stand together,” said Mitch Glazier, Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America. “The amendment appropriately narrows the effect of AB5 to clarify that music professionals, due to the unique nature of our business, cannot be treated as an employer every time they collaborate. We thank Assemblywoman Gonzalez and Majority Leader Calderon for being true partners in this effort to ensure that musicians can continue to create, live, and thrive in the state of California.”

Recording Academy Chair and Interim President/CEO Harvey Mason jr. added: “With this exemption, music creators can get back to work on their own terms of collaboration. The history of music making in California has played a vital role in shaping the world’s culture, and we can now continue that for generations to come. These are challenging times for creators but this is good news for those in California. I want to extend our gratitude to Assemblywoman Gonzalez and Majority Leader Calderon, and thank our own California members for fighting to bring this exemption to life.”

SAG-AFTRA Chief Deputy General Counsel, Jeffrey Bennett, added, “Keeping the music industry strong in CA, maintaining our ability to protect and organize the work of recording artists and singers, and allowing the creative community to thrive makes this a real and timely win for us all.  A special thanks to Assemblywoman Gonzalez and Majority Leader Calderon for their leadership.”

Link to original article:


II. B’way musicians want to donate a performance to charity. The Musicians Union won’t let them.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS planned to do a streaming broadcast of a  recording of a concert from last year in order to raise funds for it’s COVID-19 emergency fund.  All the musicians were paid for the original concert, of which I was the musical director. The performers unions would usually require new payments for this broadcast of a previous performance, but all the performers unions except the musicians union agreed to waive payment because the event was for charity. Due to the musicians union not complying the event is scheduled to be cancelled.  The musicians who played on this concert are asking the union to waive their payment so the event can proceed and funds can be raised to support all of the members of the arts community, including the musicians union itself.   BCEFA has already paid over $50,000 in relief funds to the musicians union and would pledge an additional $25,000 to the union.  But Ray Hair the president of the union refuses to waive this payment EVEN THOUGH THE MUSICIANS WHO PLAYED AND WHO WOULD BE PAID ARE ASKING HIM TO! Tell Ray Hair and the executive board to waive the required payment as the musicians are asking and let broadcast proceed, entertaining millions  of views and potentially raising hundreds of thousands for charity. This link provides more details

here’s the request from the musicians themselves

An open letter from the members of the orchestra regarding the streaming of our performance for “Celebrating 25 Magical Years of Disney On Broadway” as a fundraiser for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund:

We find ourselves in a world that has been changed radically in just a few weeks by a terrible disease that isolates us and has changed everyone’s lives. In such a time, we must all come together for the common good. As musicians we have lost the opportunity to perform publicly, but this use of our recorded performance could have been a great tool to raise funds for people in our community that are in need.
It would serve to show the world the value of live music and could also serve as an inspiration to young musicians everywhere, in addition to being both entertaining and uplifting to audiences around the world in this troubled time.

Ray Hair, the President of the American Federation of Musicians, made this decision for us without our knowledge. We acknowledge that he is working hard to protect the rights of the membership, but we as an orchestra are happy to forgo any payment for the streaming of this charitable event, especially in light of the additional $25,000 of support BCEFA offered to donate on our behalf to the Local 802 Emergency Relief Fund. This generous donation would directly support the members of Local 802 who are most in need during this crisis. Now more than ever it is essential to join with the other members of the arts community to help those in need. We implore President Hair to allow the waiver of payment so this broadcast can raise desperately needed funds for BCEFA and provide a sense of joy and community that we can all share.

In unity and support of our community, The members of the orchestra
Jim Abbott                                       Ann Gerschefski
David Kuhn                                      Gary Seligson
Daniel Weiss                                    Steve Kenyon
Greg Riley                                        Tony Kadleck
Shelagh Abate                                 Jason Jackson
Lori Abbott                                       Laura Bontrager
Rolando Morales-Matos                  Horace “Junior” Wedderburn  

Howard Joines   Orchestra Contractor

Adam Krauthamer..President of Local 802 AFM


III. Comments

I heard this idea floated by a few people and it’s worth repeating here:

With work now disappearing at a rate (I’m in NYC and never seen it so bad) never seen before because of the Corona Virus, we all need to write the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund and DEMAND they release our residuals payments NOW rather than wait til July 1st.


We are a quartet and sometimes work as a string trio. We cannot pull extra money out of wedding clients to pay for the associated taxes for AB5. We will have to stop working if this law persists.  

[EC: See Section I]


Until next time,



March 30th, 2020
  1. Navigating CARES Act Unemployment Assistance

…Absolutely guaranteed anonymity – Former Musician’s Union officer

…The one voice of reason in a sea of insanity – Nashville ‘first call’
scoring musician

…Allows us to speak our minds without fear of reprisal – L.A. Symphonic musician

…Reporting issues the Musicians Union doesn’t dare to mention – National touring musician


  1. Navigating CARES Act Unemployment Assistance

As you know, the entertainment industry is experiencing an unprecedented increase in unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the CARES Act passed by congress last week will provide $260 billion in enhanced and expanded unemployment insurance (UI) to thousands of entertainment workers throughout the country who are being furloughed, laid off, or finding themselves without work through no fault of their own.

There are a number of resources (listed below) that can help you navigate UI or the benefits provided by the CARES Act, but the first and foremost should be your state’s unemployment office website, as most of the COVID-19 economic relief funding will be distributed through state UI programs. 

Links to each state’s unemployment office website(s)

National Employment Law Project fact sheet on who qualifies for CARES Act aid

Helpful graphic provided by the AFL-CIO’s Department for Professional Employees on navigating COVID-19 UI

Please keep in mind that as the unemployment rate continues to increase, many state unemployment offices may be overwhelmed by the influx in applications. This makes it even more crucial that individuals start the process as early as possible and be persistent even if phone lines and online forms are malfunctioning. 

In solidarity, 

IATSE Communications



II. Philadelphia Inquirer Reports

Philadelphia Inquirer Reports on
AFM-EPF Class Action Settlement
While Trustees’ Risky Bets Continue to This Day   First and foremost, we at MPS hope that all of our subscribers and their loved ones are staying safe and healthy during this time of crisis. This is a difficult time to be thinking of anything other than the health and well being of our friends and family, but there continues to be news surrounding the Pension Fund and MPS will not waiver in our commitment to keep Plan Participants informed.

Here’s the latest:

As many of you know, Local 802 members Paul Livant and Andrew Snitzer filed a class action lawsuit against the AFM-EPF trustees in 2017. That lawsuit is in the process of being settled on financial terms MPS predicted shortly after the lawsuit was filed. For those interested in more details on the class action settlement right now, click here to see a feature article in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer. The proposed settlement also contains some interesting governance reforms, which we will be writing about in an upcoming post.
Trustees’ Risky Bets Continue to This Day 
In the meantime, we thought we would call to your attention certain disclosures that are made in the court documents filed in support of the settlement. Those court documents can be accessed here and here.
Plaintiff attorneys reviewed over 64,000 documents, took 24 depositions and hired multiple experts to assist them in the case.
Our main takeaway from the court papers is not that the trustees were reckless in their investment decisions. We already knew that, and the Federal Judge supervising the case has said so on multiple occasions.
The real news is that the overly risky investment strategy persists to this day and remains out of pattern with the way comparable multiemployer plans are run. (See our previous article here.)
Here are the critical conclusions in the court papers:
  Currently, AFM-EPF’s investment allocations are way out of pattern with other multiemployer pension plans with assets over $1 billion. AFM-EPF continues to bet heavily on foreign stocks (16% of the portfolio compared to the average of 4.4% for other plans) and also has a heavy bet of 8.1% to emerging market stocks compared to the average of 6.3%. AFM-EPF also is currently betting heavily on private equity (22.9% of the portfolio compared to the median of other plans of 8.7%) and an allocation of 16.6% to hedge funds compared to the median of other plans of 5.9%. The trustees’ own full analysis of their current investment allocations, compared to the allocations of other multiemployer plans, can be found here. The trustees have no intention to alter these allocations. Their long-term target allocations are essentially the same as today’s allocation.   
That’s alarming.
Here are some other disclosures we found in the court documents:
Beginning 2010, the trustees made a series of increasingly risky asset allocation investment bets, including outsized bets on Emerging Markets Equities (EMEs) and Private Equity while reducing its investment in domestic equities below 20%.
Given the bull market in U.S. stocks beginning in 2010, the reduction of the Plan’s U.S. equities investment resulted in huge opportunity losses for the Plan.
These asset allocations were way out of pattern with other large multiemployer plans.
By December 2011, Plan actuary Milliman was projecting that the Plan would likely not emerge from the red zone.  At their depositions, the primary reason the trustees gave for doubling and tripling down on their increasingly risky asset allocation bets was to attempt to “shoot for the fences” in the hope that outsized investment returns would improve the projections. 
It’s one thing to make mistakes in the past. It’s another to keep making them. The trustees’ overly risky asset allocation persists to this day and their refusal to change only provides further evidence that they are not up to the task of governing a large pension fund.

III. MPS Challenges the Trustees

MPS Challenges the Trustees to Release Court Evidence   We understand the trustees’ distress about the mounting evidence of their continuing recklessness in their handling of the Plan’s investments. Perhaps that is why in their recent post about the class action settlement the trustees have thrown more heat than light on the subject matter at hand. We offer a simple suggestion: unseal the court record so we can all see the evidence for ourselves.
It’s easy to selectively quote from the court record when that record has been sealed.
Even without access to all the evidence in the case, the evidence that has emerged is disturbing to say the least: In their own sworn testimony, the trustees’ investment strategy was to “shoot for the fences.” The Federal Judge supervising the case, Valerie Caproni, called the trustees’ investment strategy “an exceedingly risky strategy” and stated that they invested in “very risky illiquid investments which just doesn’t seem like what a pension fund should be invested in.” The exceedingly risky investment strategy persists to this day even though it is completely out of alignment with other large multiemployer pension funds. (The trustees’ attempt to obfuscate this plain fact – shown in their own analysis – notwithstanding.)  
In the case, the trustees hired expert witnesses to bolster their defense. In their recent post, the trustees quote these experts’ conclusion that the trustees did a great job. If indeed these experts said that, let’s see those reports. But let’s also see the expert reports of the plaintiff experts who said the trustees did a terrible job. And let’s see the depositions of those experts so we can see how they held up under cross-examination.
The trustees say their investment returns over the past decade were excellent. But the plaintiff experts say the trustees’ reckless decisions caused the Plan grave financial harm. Again, let’s see the reports and we can all judge for ourselves.
What better way to get to the truth than to release these documents?
Otherwise, we will have to bear the trustees issuing self-serving, selectively quoted and at best half true statements all saying the same depressing thing: We did nothing wrong; anyone who criticizes us has impure motives; and we will never change.  
Please share on social media or forward to your colleagues.




During the Covid-19 “Safer at Home” period in Los Angeles County,

Glendale Noon Concerts will bring our programs to you

via streaming on Facebook Live and Youtube:

The APRIL 1, 2020 program can be viewed at this link

beginning at 12:10 pm PST: 

Violist-Composer Jonah Sirota & Oboist Regina Brady will perform

 Benjamin Britten, J.S. Bach, and Jonah Sirota (a premiere!)

The concert will also be available for viewing at Jonah Sirota’s Youtube Channel:



Every FIRST & THIRD WEDNESDAY at 12:10-12:40 pm

Presented by Glendale City Church


Until Next Time, be safe



March 28th, 2020

…Absolutely guaranteed anonymity – Former Musician’s Union officer

…The one voice of reason in a sea of insanity – Nashville ‘first call’
scoring musician

…Allows us to speak our minds without fear of reprisal – L.A. Symphonic musician

…Reporting issues the Musicians Union doesn’t dare to mention – National touring musician


I. 26.85 Million Settlement Against AFM for Gross Trustee Mistakes

[Similar to Trump, and as expected, trustees did not acknowledge they did anything wrong.]

The musicians pension lost big time on risky bets; then a Cheltenham-born saxophonist led a suit that won a $27 million settlement

Who pays when the people who oversee retirement plans bet on risky investments and end up losing big time?

Thursday’s settlement deal in a case brought by a onetime Philadelphia area saxophonist against a $2 billion musicians’ pension fund shows that the trustees who ratify advisers’ and outside managers’ investment picks can be held responsible for their mistakes.

Management and labor trustees who oversaw the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Plan for 50,000 working and retired entertainers will have to pay the fund $26.85 million — minus up to $10 million in legal costs– to settle a civil complaint that they gambled tens of millions away on poorly performing private equity and foreign investments. They did all that while avoiding U.S. stocks even as their value soared in the early and middle 2010s.

That’s according to the agreement between lawyers for trustees for the joint plan, co-managed by the American Federation of Musicians labor union, a group of employers including Time-Warner, Disney and Broadway theater owners, and the musicians who brought the suit, including Andy Snitzer, a Cheltenham High graduate known for his work with Paul Simon, Sting, and the Rolling Stones.

Pending approval from a federal judge in New York, the money will be paid by trustees’ board insurance — which, though adequate in this case, is rarely called on to cover claims this expensive, said the musicians’ lawyers Steven A. Schwartz and Robert J. Kriner Jr. of Haverford-based Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith.

Lawyers for the industry trustees, at the big New York corporate law defense firm Proskauer Rose, confirmed the settlement, which avoids “a needless and disruptive court battle” but does not result in trustees acknowledging they did anything wrong, according to a statement by James Chase, for the trustees.

“We have always taken our fiduciary responsibility seriously and acted prudently in the best interests of all Plan participants,” he added, speaking for the trustees. He noted that the trustees took other steps to cope with the funding deficit, including sharp cuts to benefits and early retirements, and boosted employer contributions, which rose from $54 million in 2009 to $76 million last year.

Besides paying cash, Chase noted the plan has agreed to reforms. Those include the appointment of veteran pension lawyer Andrew Irving as Neutral Independent Fiduciary Trustee for the musicians’ plan, which Schwartz said would make it less likely that the trustees will make high-risk investments.

The pension could certainly use additional cash. It had $1.8 billion in assets and $3 billion in liabilities as of early 2019, making it about 60 percent funded. It has only 21,000 working members paying in, compared with 15,000 retirees or survivors who are collecting and 14,000 others who no longer work but are eligible to collect.

What went wrong? The plan “got clobbered” in the stock market collapse of 2008. The trustees realized that, with a high proportion of retirees to paying members and fewer musicians making a living in the digital era, “the pension plan would run out of money” in 30 to 40 years, said Schwartz, the musicians’ lawyer.

What to do? By 2010, the U.S. stock market had fallen by nearly half from its pre-mortgage-crisis high. Plan leaders — including union heads elected by members, as well as employer representatives (the Philadelphia Orchestra was part of the plan before its 2011 bankruptcy) — should have broadcast the fund’s dim future and pushed for more pension contributions or reduced benefits.

But instead of braving those unpopular steps, trustees “made a decision: ‘Let’s gamble our way out of this,’” said Schwartz.

Among other steps, they doubled investments in two categories — “emerging” stock markets in developing economies , and private equity, typically buyouts of troubled U.S. companies. Those bets came to comprise 9 percent of the fund, and reduced investment in U.S. stocks, which were beginning their longest sustained price increase since World War II.

Over the next year, “emerging markets,” instead of rising, fell so sharply that market wags called them “submerging markets.” Many private investments also floundered.

That didn’t scare the board. “They doubled down,” said Schwartz, boosting emerging markets to 11 percent and private equity to 15 percent — totaling more than a quarter of the fund, from less than 5 percent two years earlier. At the same time, they continued to reduce U.S. stocks to around 20 percent at a time when the Philadelphia city pension system and many other large plans were closer to 40 percent.

U.S. stocks continued to beat the private and foreign investments that the trustees favored. No matter: In 2015 the board approved boosting emerging markets yet again, to 15% of the fund, and private equity to 18 percent — totaling one-third of plan assets.

Many of those investments proved a drag on plan returns. They reduced profits when other long term investors, including the Montgomery County pension fund, were switching to Vanguard Group-style index funds, which, they noted, tended to do as well as or better than professional stock-pickers, at lower fees.

According to the complaint, the fund didn’t make clear enough to the members that it was in trouble, as required under the federal ERISA law. “It’s easy to play ‘hide the ball’ in reports to pension plan participants,” said lawyer Kriner. The trustees’ lawyers said their clients complied with the law.

Growing worries about the pension plan and the prospect that benefits might have to be cut led to the formation of a dissident union group, Musicians for Pension Security. In 2018, Tino Gagliardi, a pension trustee, and career trumpeter, was defeated in his bid for re-election as president of musicians’ Local 802 in New York. (He remains on the pension board.)

Will the fat legal settlement clear the way for other pension complaints against trustees? “I bet, when you see some of these pension plans tanking and losing value in the future, if you look at their prior disclosures, you’ll see similar problems,” said Kriner.

Still, the musicians’ case has unusual features, said Schwartz. “No other plan took quite this kind of allocation plan,” he said. The trustees had effectively “pulled the goalie,” he said, referring to the hockey move where the losing team replaces its goalie for an attacker in hopes of coming from behind — but risks losing more decisively.

From January 2010 – November 2017 the Plan had average annual returns of about 7.56%, according to the plaintiffs; Vanguard’s Index Balanced Fund returned 9.79% in that period, a significant difference underlining the shortfall from the trustees’ unusual, aggressive approach, said Schwartz.

“The message here is, if you are going to take out-of-the-box risks as a pension plan trustee, you better disclose that you are doing that, and make very sure about understanding, not just the potential upside of the risk, but also the downside.”



For years, the AFM was charging $50 per musician for foreign orchestras who wanted to tour in the US. Some years ago, those fees were raised to $250 per player. Apparently the AFM has become quite dependent on these fees.

With the Covid-19 Pandemic, that income has vanished and it was reported by a New York member that the AFM might wind up having trouble paying their Time Square rent if it lasts more than a few months.



I heard this idea floated by a few people and it’s worth repeating here:

With work now disappearing at a rate (I’m in NYC and never seen it so bad) never seen before because of the Corona Virus, we all need to write the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund and DEMAND they release our residuals payments NOW rather than wait til July 1st.

please email: Kim Roberts at that office at

[email protected]

and cc your local president esp NY and LA

feel free to share and good luck to all out there


We are a quartet and sometimes work as a string trio. We cannot pull extra money out of wedding clients to pay for the associated taxes for AB5. We will have to stop working if this law persists.


Thank you for taking the time to post this Brian! If you haven’t already done so, please consider posting this (in it’s entirety) on all of the AB5 Facebook groups such as California Independent Music Professionals United, Freelancers Against AB5, etc. You are in a unique position to effectively illustrate how many different freelance positions are filled by both union and nonunion INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS. AB5 will destroy these peoples’ livelihoods.

Thank you for posting!


It really is all hands on deck to get this earnings killer repealed! It doesn’t matter your political bent if your government is responsible for you not being able to make a legitimate living. AB5 is an equal opportunity destroyer.

Until Next Time, be safe,



February 14th, 2020

…Absolutely guaranteed anonymity – Former Musician’s Union officer

…The one voice of reason in a sea of insanity – Nashville ‘first call’
scoring musician

…Allows us to speak our minds without fear of reprisal – L.A. Symphonic musician

…Reporting issues the Musicians Union doesn’t dare to mention – National touring musician


  1. AB5 Carrots and Sticks 

Hello All,

The author of AB5, California’s new gig-work law, said Thursday that she’ll seek amendments that remove some restrictions on freelance journalists and photographers, and is eyeing further changes for musicians, small businesses and others, as well as an assistance fund to help small nonprofit arts groups comply.

Gonzalez said she’s calling for $20 million in the state budget to supply grants to small community nonprofit arts organizations “that make a good-faith effort to comply” with the new law. Many small theater, dance and music companies have said they operate on shoestring budgets and simply could not afford to hire all their performers and backstage crews as employees.


In a decision issued on Monday, (2/10/20) Judge Dolly Gee of the Central Court of California wrote that that the court “cannot second guess the Legislature’s choice to enact a law that seeks to uplift the conditions of the majority of non-exempt low-income workers rather than preserve the status quo for the smaller subset of workers who enjoy independent contractor status,” adding that “the balance of equities and the public interest weight in favor of permitting the State to enforce this legislation.”



The above does not change the fact that AB5 is the government telling citizens just under what terms they will be allowed to earn a living.

Gavin Newsom has included 20 million dollars in the budget for enforcement of AB5. Lorena Gonzalez now wants to add another 20 million to entice compliance. Lots of taxpayer dollars going toward a deeply flawed law. 

The ability to earn a legitimate living under one’s own terms should be protected as a fundamental civil right. Too bad Judge Dolly Gee doesn’t agree.



As supervising manager and/or conductor of Opera San Luis Obispo and the Lompoc Pops Orchestra, and, as Principal Conductor for State Street Ballet Santa Barbara and Civic Ballet San Luis Obispo, and, as Principal Guest Conductor of several other entities, every year, I am responsible for the hiring of more than 400 instrumental musicians, 200 choral singers, 60 vocal soloist positions, 40 dancer roles, and lastly, 40 non-performing roles; such as directors, choreographers, stage managers, costume designers, stage assistants, costume assistants, assistant conductors, assistant directors, etc.

ALL OF THESE POSITIONS ARE INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS!!! They take my jobs then move on to the next. Approximately 9% of those jobs are filled by union instrumental musicians – ALL OTHER POSITIONS are held by non-union member HUMAN BEINGS!

This information illustrates several important facts:

1. Union musicians take non-union work all the time.
2. The vast majority of work in classical performing non-profit world is produced by non-union people.
3. Union member musicians MUST take non-union work to survive.

Local 47 has never spoken for musicians. Local 47 is 100% ONLY concerned about collecting dues to fill the pockets of its executive leadership. AB5 will be overthrown and this entire negative experience suffered by artists throughout California will be remembered, recanted, and used to inspire individual union cessation, encouragement for companies to cut union ties, and finally to inform board members, patrons, and donors all around California how critical it is that they understand how utterly useless musical unionism is in today’s classical performing arts business model. AB5 will forever justify how UNNECESSARY it’s is for an orchestra to consider union membership or ANY collective bargaining negotiation.


Thank you for taking the time to post this! If you haven’t already done so, please consider posting this (in it’s entirety) on all of the AB5 Facebook groups such as California Independent Music Professionals United, Freelancers Against AB5, etc. You are in a unique position to effectively illustrate how many different freelance positions are filled by both union and nonunion INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS. AB5 will destroy these peoples’ livelihoods.


It really is all hands on deck to get this earnings killer repealed! It doesn’t matter your political bent if your government is responsible for you not being able to make a legitimate living. AB5 is an equal opportunity destroyer.


The Committee


February 10th, 2020

…Absolutely guaranteed anonymity – Former Musician’s Union officer

…The one voice of reason in a sea of insanity – Nashville ‘first call’
scoring musician

…Allows us to speak our minds without fear of reprisal – L.A. Symphonic musician

…Reporting issues the Musicians Union doesn’t dare to mention – National touring musician



AB-5’s hidden agenda.

AB-5, CMG News, Industry Updates

As we all scramble to understand how AB-5 works and what it will mean to our own livelihood, it is important to understand the hidden agenda behind the law.  It is a well-planned and heavily financed campaign to drive people back to labor unions. The AFL-CIO and individual labor unions like the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) all want “a sea change” in union participation across the board.  While this may be the best option for janitors, construction workers, taxi drivers, etc., it is NOT the best option for independent music professionals. The unions have deep pockets, a deep bench, and they feel that if some nonunion musicians, contractors, orchestras, or opera companies go out of business because of AB-5, that is acceptable collateral damage to them.  It strengthens the unions’ stance in the long run. 

Music professionals successfully figured out long ago how to make a great living as Independent Contractors.  They set their own schedules, determined their own rates, paid taxes, bought their own health insurance, etc.   This business model works for us! We were never part of the disenfranchised, misclassified worker pool. If we didn’t like the pay scale for a particular project, we simply turned it down and moved on to the next project. No harm, no foul.  In light of the January 29, 2020 article in the LA Times, “How AB5 has instilled fear and confusion in California’s arts community“,  it is important to point out that independent music professionals have negotiated pay rates that far exceed the minimum wage, and often exceed AFM’s rates.  We worked hard for this!  

Supporters of AB5 suggest that misclassified workers account for billions of dollars of unpaid tax revenue and place an unacceptable drain on social services such as healthcare (Lorena Gonzalez mentioned this in her first interview with KUSI.).  In the case of music professionals, this is simply not true. We carry our own health insurance and pay self-employment taxes in lieu of payroll taxes. Self-employment taxes combine the employee and employer portions of the Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes that employers withhold from their employees’ pay.  

The bottom line is AB-5 does not work for music professionals.  Further, compliance with a law that does not fit the industry is ludicrous.  An exemption or repeal is not likely to happen quickly as both solutions will need to go through the legislative process and calendar.  We need to commit to staying the course. We urge you to continue to write and call your state legislators! They keep track of the number of letters and calls in order to gauge the importance/impact of an issue, so be sure to call them daily!  



ALERT: Please note that there is a Congressional bill HR2747 recently introduced that would impose AB5 on a national level!

If you thought you could just move out of California to escape this…?  Act now or forever look back on the day when you were in charge of your own life. 

The following was copied from the Internet…

Subject: ACTION NEEDED: Pass AB1928 to IMMEDIATELY Repeal AB5!

  Yesterday Asm. Kevin Kiley and Asm. Melissa Melendez circulated AB1928, an urgency bill that would immediately repeal AB5, to their colleagues in the Capitol and asked them to co-sponsor this vital legislation. It’s time for all of us to TAKE ACTION. Please contact your Assemblymember and Senator by phone and email and ask them to co-sponsor AB1928 and pressure leadership to bring it to a vote as soon as possible. Here’s a script if you need it: “Hello, my name is ____________________ and I am a constituent. I’m calling to tell Mr/Mrs Assemblyman Whoever that AB5 is hurting me and my ability to earn a living and pay taxes. As it stands now, AB5 is unworkable and unfixable. I hope Assemblyman Whoever will co-sponsor AB1928, a full repeal, and work to bring it to a vote ASAP so I can get back to work. Thank you. Have a wonderful day.” FIND MY CA REP Also, HR 2474, the federal version of AB5, is up for a floor vote in the House of Representatives. It’s crucial that you CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE and ask them to vote NO. Here’s a script: “Hello, my name is ____________________ and I am a constituent. I’m calling to tell Mr/Ms Congressperson Whoever that I hope they will vote NO on HR 2474. It is a copy of California’s AB5, which is hurting me and my ability to earn a living and pay taxes. It’s destroying the arts, independent journalism, youth sports, and after-school tutoring programs. HR 2474 will take a failed policy nationwide and hurt millions of Americans. Thank you. Have a wonderful day.” If you feel comfortable telling your story before Congress, you can even mention that you’d be willing to testify in Congressional hearings on the matter. To find your Congressmember’s contact information, click here. FIND MY CONGRESSPERSON And, please SHARE this information far and wide. You can forward this email or post a link to it on your social media accounts. 



The following was sent to ABC7, KTLA and Fox11. So far there has been no response…the media silence on this issue is deafening. 

Dear Media Entity, 

AB5 is having a devastating effect on the ability of the freelance/independent contractor to earn a living.  Literally hundreds of thousands of freelancers are finding themselves scrambling to cover the loss of personal and economic liberty. 

It has become apparent that this bill promoted as ‘worker protection’ is really just a power grab by unions dangling the prospect of more state revenue in the faces of our elected representatives.  The California legislature has been commandeered by the unions.  

This law forces freelancers into an employer-employee relationship making that relationship ripe for union organizing.  The unions want no competition in the marketplace. 

The ability to earn an honest living under one’s own terms should be a fundamental civil right. 

The media has remained aloof as this assault on the freelance worker plays out. The law which took effect on January 1, 2020 is having a real and palpable impact on the economic and social fabric of California. 

I am asking that the media cover this important issue…or maybe you can’t.

Full Time Freelancer
Los Angeles



These are the words of the President of Local 47.

President Acosta made it very clear…”AB5 will not be repealed”…”..we are looking out for the music ecosystem”…”the musicians union sets the standard for non-union workers”…”we want to organize musicians”…”we might have openness to amendments”… (Implicit in that last statement is that the unions are in control).

G. Lasley, Sec-Treas was sent to Sacramento on 2/3/20 to lobby in favor of AB5. 
The AFM is part of the AFL-CIO.  Their shield will be they had no choice… Sure…


Well, I just had two chamber performances canceled because the presenter does not want to change from a 1099. I completely understand. A COMPLETELY ridiculous law.
I am actually now moving some of my recording projects to Nashville. It will just be a lot more comfortable. Our union is living with contract language designed for the ’80s.
A friend of mine (string player) in London just finished recording his 8th film since January 1st. They could have ALL been here without residual payments.


By the time September comes around for a vote on any exemption for musicians…it will be too late. The landscape will have changed and the work will not be coming back.


I firmly believe that the unions (not just AFM) will be in control of which exemptions are allowed or rejected. AB5 was sponsored by unions. It was written by the unions, for the unions. The little guy isn’t being heard. The pessimist in me says he doesn’t even have a seat at the table. The optimist in me says “YET!”



As has already been pointed out by this blog and many others, the President / Board of Local 47 and the AFM are totally in the bag for AB5. Many groups, opera companies, orchestras and other entities (musical or not) have had to close or leave the state.

Now they’re trying to take the law nationwide in the hopes of forcing everyone to rejoin or join a union. The committee fully supports honest unions and its members have had decades of membership in such organizations, but the Los Angeles Local 47 and the AFM in general has proven again and again that they are not worthy of your support, unless you’re “part of the club”. In LA that means part of the 1 percent or so of membership who get steady union work. The rest? They just want your money and to have you sit down and shut up as the 1 percent do most or all of the recording work.

Don’t kid yourself, virtually all musicians do non-union work. Musicians at the highest levels of our industry do non-union work. We all know who they are, but we choose not to out them. After all, if they’re “in the club” they’ll get a pass anyway and the person who reported them will be the “bad guy”. Hypocrisy at the highest level.

In 1983, Local 47 in Los Angeles had over 13,000 members. Today? 2020? About 6,200 members. The drastic loss in membership is not because of politics, or because people have been undermining the union. The union has brought it upon itself. It is because more and more people have realized the union does nothing for them but take their money, then try to fine them if they work to pay their bills with the only work available to them… nonunion work.

So now the biggest labor entities are joining together for their own version of  “Animal Farm.”

Don’t let them do it.

Fight AB5 and the nationwide version HR2747!

Call your representatives. Fight for our right to work on our own terms.

Until next time,

The Committee


January 28th, 2020



…Absolutely guaranteed anonymity – Former Musician’s Union officer

…The one voice of reason in a sea of insanity – Nashville ‘first call’

…Allows us to speak our minds without fear of reprisal – L.A. Symphonic

…Reporting issues the Musicians Union doesn’t dare to mention – National
touring musician


Now is the time to contact Gov. Newsom and your State Assembly and
State Senate representatives to support immediate repeal of AB 5 via AB-1928
introduced by Assembly Member Kevin Kiley.  A rally is taking place at the
State Capitol tomorrow.

Freelance workers cannot wait for AB-1850 (a placeholder bill currently without
language and a timeline) introduced by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez as a
“clean-up” bill for her AB 5. We cannot place our lives on hold and
hope for a possible vote in September that will end this nightmare!


2. BILL 1850

Dear Editor,

State Assembly Member Lorena Gonzales has thrown a bone to our
industry…maybe.  An Amendment Bill AB-1850 (with no timeline and no
actual language) is being offered for consideration.

Local 47 AFM President John Acosta (a proponent of this earnings killer for the
vast majority of union members who do not solely earn a living in their chosen
profession reflected on W2s) told his Local 47 Board of Directors… He had
received a call from IASTE and was asked what plans the Local might have
…”openness to amendments”…as “they are also having issues
with their membership.” The Executive Board went into private (Executive
Session) for over an hour on this issue.

Is it going to be up to unions just what exemptions IF ANY will be allowed?!

Local 47 Member


3. Member Comment

Says bucketloads of what our union is doing to protect
working musicians!! This union has been going backwards for a long time now.
Very sad, especially for the young freelancers out there.


Until next time,


AB5 WORK LOSS – Comments

January 18th, 2020


…Absolutely guaranteed anonymity – Former Musician’s Union officer

…The one voice of reason in a sea of insanity – Nashville ‘first call’
scoring musician

…Allows us to speak our minds without fear of reprisal – L.A. Symphonic musician

…Reporting issues the Musicians Union doesn’t dare to mention – National touring musician

Dear Editor, 

Just received a call from an enraged fellow musician…an opera that was scheduled for all next week has been cancelled due to AB5!  Here is a musician that relies on this type of community gig to pay the bills!  How will this musician cover this loss? So sad and will not be the only one….so many other persons in other fields are already feeling the pain of jobs lost and a mad scramble to get anything to keep money coming in.  As one person wrote re: Repeal AB5 ….in answer to Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez’s (who introduced the bill) comment, “People shouldn’t need to have two or three jobs…” “Thanks, now I have no jobs!”

Dark Dates will go Black Market and musicians will be relegated to the same status as the day laborers at Home Depot…illegal and working for cash! Sickening!

47 Member


It is pathetic that the musician union that suppose to defend the interest of musician is doing nothing to oppose this law that the only thing it will do is damage the entire music business.


Many musicians woke up on January 1, 2020 without a clue that their way of life was going to be in jeopardy. AB5 is a drastic game changer for people who are used to owning their own lives and livelihoods. This bill is a power grab by big labor and a money grab by an out of control legislature. Don’t whine…get busy and exercise your civic rights! Our government works best when it fears its voters!


This law is extremely harmful to the entire music community and will cause harmful consequences to the people working in this industry as well as for the general population who will be deprived of music because there just won’t ba any way to produce it any more. Venues will close, people will go broke with all the challenges that insures on the health of a human being.

I urge you to reconsider and amend this law to take our specific industry into consideration and leaving it out of this legislation.


We’ve also received word from another member who writes text for a publishing company on the side. Turns out the company has decided to leave California, eliminating whatever work was done by folks here.

Nice going AB5 supporters. (You listening John?…. Ray?)


There was a recent interview with one of the legislators who had to hear complaints from constituents whose work has disappeared directly because of AB5.

Her Response? “They’re lying.”

With friends like these….

Till next time.



January 15th, 2020

Freelancers Angry Over Assemblywoman Gonzalez’ False Claims About Benefits

“The terms of AB 5 are so murky that many companies are choosing to not work with anyone living in California.”

Newsom Budgets Millions to Hunt Down AB-5 Violators

By Michelle Mears, January 14, 2020 6:51 am

“Like the old Soviet Union you will be allowed to work only if government allows it—under their conditions, not yours.” ~Stephen Frank

Part ll of those hurt by AB 5.

Part l is here: Democrat Assemblywoman Gonzalez Says There Is No Data Proving Thousands of Freelancers Are Losing Work Due to AB-5

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) and Governor Gavin Newsom (D)  are digging in as freelancers fight back against AB 5. On Friday, Jan. 10 Gonzalez appeared on KUSI in San Diego and made numerous false claims about workers in the gig economy not paying taxes or having benefits. The same day,  Gov. Gavin Newsom allocated $20-million to target and investigate contractors, not in compliance with the law that took effect New Year’s Day.

California is estimated to have nearly two million residents who choose to work as an independent contractor, according to the  2018 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Economic Release. Two million however is a conservative estimate because the report did not include the number of individuals who supplement their income with online platforms.

Gonzalez has angered not just thousands but possibly millions of voters. Self-proclaimed hard core Democrats have said this is the straw that broke the camels back.

A group of contractors met with Assemblyman David Chui (D) in San Francisco on Monday. Chui told contractor Emily Price and others that a repeal of AB-5 is unlikely but he is keeping a binder of people’s stories on how the bill is affecting them.

Meanwhile, rally’s are being planned up and down the state, freelancers and independent contractors are writing letters, and making phone calls to state representatives. Gonzalez however remains firm AB 5 and says the new law is best for the state.

AB 5 stems from the  The Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court decision by the California Supreme Court in April 2018 that overturned three decades of California employment law that allowed individuals to work as independent contractors.

According to, “This decision could upend how millions of Californians earn a living and nearly every industry due to its new restrictive ABC test. The ABC test is the first time in U.S. history that such a test has been imposed by a court, without legislative approval, with three independently disqualifying factors.“

Newsom who is pro-union like Gonzalez, said he will use part of the $20 million for training staff to allocate the ABC test and to allocate funding to investigate and hold hearings on compliance. A reporter from California Political Review compared Newsom’s tactics to the those of a communist regime.

“Like the old Soviet Union you will be allowed to work only if government allows it—under their conditions, not yours,” wrote Stephen Frank.

The terms of AB 5 are so murky that many companies are choosing to not work with anyone living in California.


January 8th, 2020

…Absolutely guaranteed anonymity – Former Musician’s Union officer

…The one voice of reason in a sea of insanity – Nashville ‘first call’
scoring musician

…Allows us to speak our minds without fear of reprisal – L.A. Symphonic musician

…Reporting issues the Musicians Union doesn’t dare to mention – National touring musician

Editor’s Comment: As anyone who’s followed the AB5 story knows by now, The AFM and Local 47 made no request to exempt freelance musicians from AB5. In fact, they support it. Word is they support it because they think it’ll force those who’ve gone Fi-Core or are non-union to re-join or join the AFM. That’s not going to happen, and as you will read below, the AFM and Local’s conduct is coming home to roost in a big way, affecting us all.



  1. AB5 Update LOCAL 47

Originally posted December 31, 2019 by AFM Local 47 President John Acosta [johncoz2022]:

Many of you may now have heard of California legislation AB5 which was created to ensure that most workers in California are classified as employees, not independent contractors. Introduced by California Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, AB5 was created to incorporate the Dynamex ruling, which was a California Supreme Court decision from last year, into state law. That decision limited an employer’s ability to classify certain types of workers as independent contractors. Some members have asked if this new law will negatively impact the practice of using loan out companies as a way of ensuring fair tax treatment for our members. It is our view that AB5 will have no impact on the use of loan outs. AFM Local 47 along with DGA, WGA, IATSE and SAG-AFTRA have done exhaustive due diligence with counsel to come to this conclusion.

Another hot topic with AB5 is the so-called “end of the music business as we know it” tagline that some organizations are touting. Nothing could be farther from the truth! While AFM agreements clearly establish that musicians are employees and not independent contractors, there were many instances where employers attempted to misclassify musicians. Leading up to the bill’s adoption we worked closely with SAG-AFTRA to ensure that musicians and singers were properly covered under this new legislation. With the backing of the California Labor Federation, our Secretary/Treasurer Gary Lasley along with AFM reps all over California reached out to elected officials to seek continued support for this important legislation.  

There are current talks underway with the California legislature and employer partners to clarify AB 5’s impact where necessary, but AFM Local 47 will always do what is in the best interest of its members first and foremost.

Whether it is a community orchestra, small theater, or a live performance, California law requires employers who hire musicians for performances, which meet the AB5 threshold, to pay the appropriate taxes and make the necessary withholdings. This way, musicians can apply for disability, unemployment, Social Security or workers’ comp when necessary and applicable.

This entry was posted in All News, Legislative News ( and tagged AB 5, AB5 on January 2, 2020.

  1. Comment on the site for this story:

January 4, 2020 at 10:12 am

Horrible stupid bill and shame on the “union” for backing it!!!! The union represents less than 5% of the music industry but they don’t give a crap about anyone else. I’m going to-core

  • Additional Local 47 member comment:

Really?  Someone who has been a desk jockey for nearly two decades has the balls to tell the rank-and-file the Union is working for us?!!


2. Musicians Union’s Pension Plan Asks Treasury Department For Permission To Reduce Benefits In 2021

By David Robb (


January 7, 2020 9:00am

Trustees of the American Federation of Musicians’ troubled Pension Plan have asked the U.S. Treasury Department for permission to reduce thousands of musicians’ monthly pension benefits in order to keep the “critical and declining” Fund from becoming insolvent within the next 20 years.

The Plan is in trouble because as of March, its $3 billion in liabilities exceeded its $1.8 billion in assets, meaning that the Plan is underfunded by about $1.2 billion. Ironically, many musicians facing pension cuts were once employed on films executive produced by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who was a prolific movie producer and investor before joining President Donald Trump’s Cabinet in February 2017.

See the trustees’ FAQ here.

U.S. Department of the Treasury

The trusties, who determined that the Plan had entered “critical and declining status” last April, told their participants today that “This means that the Plan is projected to run out of money to pay benefits – or become ‘insolvent’ – within 20 years under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MPRA), a law enacted in December 2014. Under MPRA, if a fund enters critical and declining status, the trustees can apply to the U.S. Department of the Treasury for approval to reduce participants’ benefits by an amount sufficient to avoid insolvency.

“Although reducing earned benefits will be painful, the trustees have submitted an application to do so because the alternative of running out of money would leave participants with a much greater benefit reduction in the future. The trustees have no other viable way to save the Plan for the long term – that is to say, realistic investment returns and contribution increases will not avoid insolvency.”

According to the trustees, nearly half the Plan’s 50,782 participants are expected to see some reduction of benefits beginning early next year, and some will be harder hit than others. Pensioners who are 80 years old and older, for instance, won’t see their pensions reduced at all, nor will those who receive disability pensions. Those who receive relatively small pensions won’t be affected either, or will be affected the least. The reductions will fall mostly on younger retirees – current and future – and on those who receive the largest pensions.

The trustees estimate that 22,753 participants (44.8%) are expected to see reductions of 20% or less, with 930 (1.8%) seeing reductions of 20-40%. They estimate that 27,099 participants (53.4%) won’t see any reductions at all.

If approved by Treasury and by the participants, the benefit reductions, which will kick on Jan. 1, 2021, will affect a broad mix of musicians who work or have worked in the film and television industry under the union’s contract with management’s AMPTP; on sound recordings; at symphonies and operas; on Broadway, and in regional and traveling musical productions.

20,000 Musicians To Receive “Painful” Pension Cuts To Keep Benefit Fund Solvent

The decision to apply to the Treasury Dept. for benefit reductions “was painful, but it is essential that we do everything possible to put the Plan on stronger financial footing,” the trustees told participants today in personalized statements telling each participant how much, if any, their benefits will need to be reduced to keep the Plan solvent.

“Doing nothing also results in benefit reductions,” they said. “This isn’t a choice between reducing benefits and not reducing benefits. It is a choice between reducing benefits now, or reducing benefits later, but to a greater extent. No one wants to reduce benefits. But, if we don’t reduce benefits now, at some point in the future, the Plan won’t have enough money to pay benefits.”

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), which was created by an act of Congress in 1974, is supposed to protect multiemployer pension funds like the AFM’s, but facing a record-breaking deficit of more than $65 billion itself, has said that it could run out of money by 2025.

“The PBGC’s multiemployer program is projected to become insolvent by 2025,” the trustees noted. “If that happens, then there will be little to no PBGC guarantee to fall back on. In this scenario, if the Plan became insolvent, then participants’ benefits would be reduced dramatically. That’s why it’s so important for us to ensure that the Plan avoids insolvency. While there is no doubt that benefit reductions for participants will be difficult, they cannot be worse than the catastrophic reductions that would take place for participants if the Plan and the PBGC both ran out of money.”

And even though the PBGC’s own financial problems make it an unreliable guarantor – with more than 100 multiemployer pension plans across the country currently facing insolvency – they’re required to pay into it, regardless of their funding status. For 2020, multiemployer plan have to pay $30 to the PBGC per plan participant – nearly quadrupling from $8 per plan participant in 2007. For the AFM Plan, that means that its required PBGC premiums increased from approximately $400,000 a year in 2007 to $1,450,000 last year “due to the enormous increases in the per-participant annual premium,” the trustees said.

Musicians Union Failed To Win Streaming Residuals – Its Main Goal In Film & TV Contract Negotiations

“Some legislative proposals in Congress have included significant increases to PBGC premiums, including a November 2019 proposal by Senators Charles Grassley and Lamar Alexander,” the trustees said. “If passed, such increases would drain the assets of troubled plans like the AFM Plan even faster, thereby hastening possible insolvency. The trustees oppose these increases.”

“We have a real opportunity to save the Plan,” the trustees said. “There are a number of other financially troubled plans that are too far gone to even apply” to the Treasury Dept. for benefit reductions. “We believe that our proposed reduction will reposition the Plan to be around to pay benefits to current and future retirees for decades to come.”

But that will require the Plan’s participants to approve the reductions if Treasury gives the okay. And if everything goes according to plan, Treasury will post the AFM’s application on its website on Jan. 29, and will have completed its review of the application by Aug. 11, approving or denying it. If the application is approved, the Treasury Dept. will mail ballots to all participants and beneficiaries of deceased participants within 30 days of approval. Voters will then have at least three weeks to cast ballots, with those who don’t vote being counted as “yes” votes to reduce benefits. Treasury must then announce the outcome of the vote within seven days of the voting deadline, and for a plan of benefit reductions to be voted down, a majority of eligible voters must vote against it, meaning that a low-voter turnout will guarantee approval.

It’s also possible that Treasury will identify changes that need to be made in the application before it can be approved. In that case, the Plan may withdraw the application and resubmit it, which would restart the timeline. This has occurred for many other pension funds that ultimately have had their applications approved. “To reduce the likelihood of this scenario,” the trustees said, “we have had numerous communications with Treasury about its expectations.”

“Nobody wants to see benefits reduced,” the trustees stressed. “But unless Congress steps in with a legislative solution, something it has so far refused to do, the options boil down to reduced benefits now or running out of money and having a much higher reduction in benefits later. We understand that participants don’t want to hear that we need to take away a portion of the pension they have been relying on, but that’s the awful choice we face.”


“Good morning, thanks for calling the AF of M”

Yeah hi, this is runaway scoring calling. I’m here in Seattle, tomorrow I’ll be in London at Abbey Road with all your musicians. We’re scoring all your films non union now. I think you might have a long term problem coming on your hands and I want to give you the heads up”

“I’m sorry, we’re busy at the moment right now with pressing matters”…click.


3.Musicians Union Failed To Win Streaming Residuals – Its Main Goal In Film & TV Contract Negotiations

The American Federation of Musicians failed to achieve its main goal in its recently concluded negotiations for a new film and TV contract – winning residuals for musicians’ work on episodic TV shows made for streaming services. Even so, the 80,000-member union says it will keep fighting for those payments when the contract comes up for renewal in two years.

The negotiations with management’s AMPTP concluded with a tentative agreement on Friday, but terms of the deal weren’t released until today.

The new two-year contract, which still must be ratified by the union’s members, “includes many substantive improvements and no significant concessions,” the AFM said, “yet still does not include residuals for work on films and episodic TV shows made for streaming.”

The union added: “For the first time in history, musicians will receive screen credits when they perform on theatrical and streamed film scores. Also for the first time, the proposed deal establishes fair wages and conditions for high-budget shows made for streaming platforms.”

Other economic improvements include an increase in musician residual payments for shows rented and purchased online, as well as 3%-a-year wage increases. According to the union, “Musicians successfully resisted attempts by the studios to impose unjustified concessions, including those that would allow studios to score more TV shows and films abroad.”

The AFM added: “While these unprecedented achievements are significant wins for musicians, their biggest demand — residuals for work in new media — was not included in the final offer by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. While the studios continue to refuse industry-standard residuals for new media projects, musicians have made it clear that this is still a priority and that they will continue to fight for this basic standard.”

AFM president Ray Hair called the deal a temporary “truce” in its ongoing battle for streaming residuals:

“The campaign for fairness in our contract with the studios, particularly on the issue of compensation and residuals for content made for streaming, has energized not only our film and television musicians in Los Angeles, New York and Nashville, but musicians throughout the country. The tentative agreement, if ratified, will be viewed as a short-term truce. While we’ve made meaningful progress on how we are recognized and treated when we perform scoring sessions for theatrical and long form new media productions, our musicians’ concerted activity will continue as the backdrop to our ongoing efforts to obtain fair residual terms whenever we are engaged to score content made for streaming.”



Great blog! I agree with and support both articles by Ari and the one with the letter. However, I think the most compelling article is the one written by the current AFM member. I’ve spoken with many union members about AB5 and learned that many of them did NOT support this bill. Very little information was shared prior to September 18, 2019 when the bill was signed by Governor Newsom. Even after the law was signed, the majority of music professionals I spoke to knew nothing about the law. If the AFM was truly “representing” the voice of their members and the music community, they should have done a much better job at educating everyone about the impending bill BEFORE it was signed into law. Now we must spend our precious time and resources complying with the law while also fighting for an exemption. Great job AFM!


Until Next Time,

The Committee