Archive for December, 2017

MPS ANSWERS AFM / CLOSED DOORS / WHAT THE AFM SAYS / EVENTS

Monday, December 11th, 2017

 

12/11/17

I. MUSICIANS FOR PENSION SECURITY ANSWER AFM COMPLAINTS
II. TRUSTEES BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
III. WHAT THE AFM/PENSION PLAN SENT OUT
IV. EVENTS

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM THE COMMITTEE!

…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

 

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I. MUSICIANS FOR PENSION SECURITY ANSWER AFM COMPLAINTS

When our trustees sent out a letter one year ago in
December of 2016 disclosing for the first time that it
was quite possible that we could be facing cuts to our
existing benefits as soon as spring 2017 there was a
lot of confusion, unanswered questions, and shock.
In the months following, when many AFM members
looked to our elected leaders and trustees for help,
information and a plan. It became clear that our
elected leaders were not going to help and that we
would have to deal with the pension crisis ourselves.
A group of concerned musicians organized to
address the ongoing pension crisis and founded
Musicians for Pension Security. Our mission
statement from the beginning has been clear and
simple: We have come together in search of
more information about the state of our pension
and, ultimately, to demand more transparency and
accountability from the AFM-EPF Trustees. With
input and participation from plan participants across
the country, we will be able to speak with one
unified voice working towards a sustainable
long-term plan for a secure pension.

On 12/9/2017, participants of the AFM-EPF
pension plan received an email (read it here)
from our trustees who say they want to “set
the record straight” and accusing “individuals
who have attacked Fund Trustees” with
information “not supported by data and ignoring
facts that don’t serve their agendas.”

If this is directed at MPS, then we will set the
record straight about our organization. We are
not a few “individuals.” MPS is now a national
organization that reaches into every major
local in this country. It took us only five days
to crowdfund $15,000 to hire a highly respected
actuarial firm, Bolton Partners. We have organized
thousands of plan participants through our website
www.musiciansforpensionsecurity.com and the
MPS Facebook page. Our national conference
calls are regularly attended by scores of engaged
participants across the country. Policymakers in
Washington D.C. like Senator Sherrod Brown and
Senator Lamar Alexander (Chairman of the Senate
Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee)
regularly deal with MPS as a serious and impactful
interest group representing the concerns of pension
plan participants. Our grassroots organizing capability
was recently shown when we spearheaded an
extremely successful call to action where thousands of
AFM members called and emailed AFM President Ray
Hair urging him to support The Butch Lewis Act. MPS
Executive Director, Adam Krauthamer, recently received
an award from the Pension Rights Center in Washington
DC in recognition of his services to the AFM-EPF plan
participants. He received this award alongside several
other highly respected pension activists and journalists.

Far from “promoting our own selfish interests,”
as the trustees put it, MPS volunteers are doing
the thousands of hours of work it takes to try and
help our friends and colleagues around the country
stay informed in the face of this pension crisis, while
at the same time seeking solutions. We all do this
while holding down demanding careers as professional
musicians. It is unclear how trying to protect
our fellow members can be deemed selfish.

MPS does not have armies of advisors, consultants,
lawyers and Washington D.C. pollsters controlling our
actions and messaging like the AFM-EPF does.
Through rigorous analysis of the facts, and help from
our legal counsel, actuary and the Pension Rights
Center, we have been able to debunk much of the spin
and misdirection put forth by the trustees. For nine
months we have published numerous pieces with clear
explanations disproving many of the things our trustees
have said and written about regarding our pension fund.
All articles are painstakingly fact-checked and
can be found here.

The trustees’ latest email blast is yet another example
of their spin and misdirection. Let’s take each item in
order:

The Butch Lewis Act

The Butch Lewis Act provides low-cost government
loans to plans like AFM-EPF and would guarantee a
100% pension payout for everyone in the plan. It is
a no-brainer for our trustees to support. (The AFM
supports it, but critically the AFM-EPF trustees do not.)
They state AFM-EPF actuaries are analyzing it but
they have had this legislation in their hands for over a
month. The actuaries have software and could produce
any necessary analysis inside of one day. Our trustees
continue to support the NCCMP and refuse to disassociate
themselves from NCCMP’s active opposition to the Butch
Lewis Act. (See the previous post here). The trustees’
refusal to endorse the Butch Lewis Act does not support
the long-term interest of the fund. It is damaging the
interests of plan participants.

“Streamlined” Investment Management

Our trustees claim that adding another investment manager to
oversee the day-to-day decisions of the investment portfolio will
“streamline” the investment strategy. However, they still keep a
bloated staff of 70 plus people, including Maureen Kilkelly, who
earns by far the most of any executive director of any pension
plan we are aware of in the peer group. They will also keep
investment consultant group Meketa on board despite their
industry worst investment performance for our fund but, we
are told, for a reduced fee. It is unclear why one more dollar
would be spent on them based on their performance. (See
our previous article on fund expenses here.)

Investment Expenses

The trustees do not even attempt to defend their overall
expenses of $25 million per year. Instead, they take one
sub-category, investment management fees, and try to
show they compare favorably. They claim that they pay
their investment managers less than other union pension
funds do. Whether it is true or not, it is like saying if my
electricity bill is less than yours, that means my total
household expenses are less than yours are.

Administrative expenses

The trustees make the same specious argument they made
in the Roadshow in March 2017: they compare absolute
administrative expenses of much larger funds, like the
Screen Actors Guild to ours. That is not the standard measure
of efficiency in the investment business. The industry standard
way to compare is to look at the ratio of expenses to assets
under management. On this basis, AFM-EPF has by far the
highest expenses of any peer pension plan. The trustees try
to make themselves look better by cherry picking their data:
stripping out expenses they don’t like (depreciation, professional
fees, PBGC premiums). Of course, if you can customize your
comparison you’re much more likely to get the results you want.
See our previous article on this topic here.

In closing, we would like to say that we will continue to raise
our voices until the AFM-EPF trustees and fund administrators
accept their responsibility and work to fully protect the pension
benefits of all fund participants. We encourage all AFM members
to do the same.

 

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II. Trustees Tout Expense Cuts
But Behind Closed Doors it’s Another Story

Recently posted in the Frequently Asked Questions section of the
AFM-EPF website is a highly important new disclosure that the
trustees have hired Cambridge Associates as an “Outside Chief
Investment Officer” (OCIO). This is an important development
because it puts in perspective just how out of touch the AFM-EPF
trustees are in December 2017. They are not replacing Meketa,
our fund investment consultant since 2010, but they are adding
another layer of management and expense heaped on top of
what is already the bloated administration of our pension fund.
It is no wonder that the expenses of the AFM-EPF are by far
the highest in our industry. Our trustees spent over $250 million
over the last 10 years, with an investment return that is dead
last in the business. (The 3 and 5-year returns are also at the
bottom of the peer group. See our previous article about
these numbers here.)

Now with the addition of an Outside Chief Investment Officer,
Cambridge Associates, expenses at the AFM-EPF will be
even higher. The layers of expenses at the AFM-EPF are
truly staggering. First, we have Cambridge Associates (OCIO),
then Meketa our fund consultant, both of which are taking
substantial fees for their overall management of the fund.
These two firms then choose over 25 investment managers,
who each take a cut of the assets under management.
Then there are often sub-managers who take a further
cut. For example, in the private equity and alternative investment
sector (in which AFM-EPF is heavily invested), most of the
funds we invest in are a “fund of funds.” These funds are
nothing more than general contractors who sub-contract
out the actual investing to other funds.

On top of all that expense, AFM-EPF office has a staff of
over 70 reporting to Maureen Kilkelly, who is earning
$425,000 per year and her deputy, Will Luebking, who
earns $280,000 per year. Cambridge Associates has
been hired by AFM-EPF as its “Outside Chief Investment
Officer (OCIO)”. If our trustees have outsourced the role
of chief investment officer, then what are all the high-
priced managers on staff at the AFM-EPF doing?

Finally, we must ask why, after turning in the worst
investment performance in our peer group over the
past decade, is Meketa still serving as investment
advisor and why is Meketa collecting a handsome
fee for doing the same work that Cambridge
Associates is doing? MPS has learned that in early
2016, the trustees hired Gallagher Fiduciary Advisors,
LLC, to select a new investment advisor. In October
2016, Gallagher recommended that Meketa not be
considered for this role. The trustees overruled that
recommendation and made the decision to hire
Cambridge and keep Meketa as well.

In December of 2016 when our trustees disclosed
for the first time that we might be facing cuts to existing
benefits as soon as spring of 2017, they sent to plan
participants an offensive letter stating What Participants
Can Do:

“Given our financial status, we are faced with the reality
of the one-dollar benefit multiplier as the basis for any
benefits earned in the future. This means that while
the AFM-EPF pension you receive will still be important,
for many the benefit will be a modest one. A modest
pension emphasizes the importance of having a
comprehensive retirement strategy that includes a
personal savings component to supplement the AFM-EPF
pension and Social Security benefits.”

In December of 2017, as our trustees still seem to be
embracing a plan to cut our existing benefits in the
near future, MPS has a message for “What Trustees
Can Do” on behalf of plan participants: Stop wasting
our money. Stop making poor management decisions
and stop saying publicly you are going to cut down on
expenses at the AFM-EPF while behind closed doors
the opposite is true. Start being accountable to plan
participants for your actions both past and present.

 

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III. WHAT THE AFM/PENSION PLAN SENT OUT

Recently, participants have received emails from
individuals who have attacked Fund Trustees and
have misrepresented information about the Fund—
either by cherry-picking or presenting things without
any factual context—while making judgments not
supported by data and ignoring facts that don’t serve
their agendas.

We recognize that the financial status of our Fund
and the security of our participants’ pension benefits
is a concern shared by all. We have heard from you
that these third-party communications are causing
both confusion and distress among Fund participants.

Today, we want to set the record straight on some
important issues. We also call upon those who do
not support the long-term interests of the Fund, and
who are promoting their own selfish interests, to
cease making false and misleading attacks, and to
redirect themselves toward responsible, productive
efforts to protect the pension benefits of their fellow
Fund participants.

We are committed to ensuring that all participants
have access to timely and accurate information
about the Fund and its financial status. You can find
additional information on our website at www.afm-epf.org.

AFM-EPF Actuaries Analyzing Federal Legislation
to Assist Troubled Multiemployer Pension Funds

On November 16, we informed you of the Butch Lewis
Act, which was introduced by U.S. Senator Sherrod
Brown to address the severe challenges being faced
by multiemployer pension funds across the nation.
Congressional Democrats have stated their intent to
include this legislation in the omnibus spending bill that
must be passed by a now-extended deadline of
December 22.

When this legislation was first introduced, the AFM-
EPF Trustees, immediately and not due to any
prompting, directed our actuaries to determine if
the bill would, if enacted, provide the Fund with
the financial support required to avoid insolvency.
This analysis is currently underway.

If it is determined that the Butch Lewis Act helps
protect our participants’ pension benefits, then the
Trustees would support it, as we would any legislative
proposal that provides relief to the AFM-EPF.

OCIO Approach Streamlines Investment Strategy,
Expected to Generate Increased Returns

The Fund’s Trustees recognize the need for both
expert advice and the ability to respond quickly to
often rapidly-changing conditions in the financial
markets. As detailed in our recently updated FAQs,
we recently made the decision to streamline our
investment structure and process by shifting to an
OCIO (Outsourced Chief Investment Officer) model.
The respected firm of Cambridge Associates, LLC
has been engaged to oversee day-to-day decisions
for the Fund’s investment portfolio, acting within
parameters established by the Fund’s Investment
Committee and Board of Trustees.

Meketa Investment Group will no longer serve in
the role of Investment Advisor and will instead,
under a reduced fee structure, adopt the role of
Independent Monitoring Fiduciary for the OCIO.

We expect that, over the long term, this approach
will allow us to be more responsive to new and
changing market dynamics, and will lead to higher
investment returns after fees.

AFM-EPF Investment Expenses are Lower
Than Those of Other Union Pension Funds

The Trustees closely monitor investment fees and
make every reasonable effort to keep them to a
minimum. According to Greenwich Associates’
most recent survey of union pension funds (2016),
AFM-EPF’s active investment manager fees are
lower than the average in every asset class. Trustees
have also reduced investment fees by moving
assets into passive index funds where it makes
sense to do so.

AFM-EPF Administrative Expenses Closely
Monitored, Comparable with Other Entertainment
Industry Funds

Despite the false claims made by others, the data
proves that AFM-EPF’s administrative expenses
are actually in line with other large pension plans
in the entertainment industry. The chart below shows
that we fall right in the middle of our peers. Since
each plan has its own fiscal year end, for this analysis
we used the fiscal year (shown in parentheses in the
table) that contained as much of calendar year
2015 as possible.

It’s important to remember that our Plan was the only
stand-alone pension plan in this group. All other
entities administered a health fund, and, in most
cases, other ancillary funds among which general
administrative expenses, including staff salaries,
are shared. When comparing administrative expenses,
we adjusted the Form 5500 numbers to account for
that. We also removed PBGC premiums, depreciation
and professional fees to make this more of an “apples
to apples” comparison. Any comparison that doesn’t
account for these critical factors is totally inaccurate
and misleading.

Being in the middle of our peers is an accomplishment
because we run a far more complicated Plan than many
of our peers – we have thousands more collective
bargaining agreements and interact with thousands
more employers than most. When you compare our
Plan’s administrative expenses to six other similar
entertainment industry plans, we have the lowest
expenses per number of collective bargaining agreements,
the second lowest per number of employers and the
third lowest per number of participants.

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IV. EVENTS
DEAN AND RICHARD
are now at Culver City Elks the first 
Friday of 
every month.
7:30pm-10:30pm,
11160 Washington Pl.
Culver City, 90232
310-839-8891

 

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12/17/17

ASMAC/LAJS Holiday party @ Catalina’s in Hollywood

Dec 17 @ 11:30 am – 3:00 pm

Bill Cunliffe Trio with special guest Denise Donatelli
——————————————–

UNTIL NEXT TIME,

THE COMMITTEE FOR A MORE RESPONSIBLE LOCAL 47

LANDMARK? / MPS HONOERED / AFM TIES TO NCCMP / EVENTS

Friday, December 1st, 2017

 

12/1/17

I. OLD UNION BUILDING A LANDMARK?
II. MUSICIANS FOR PENSION SECURITY HONORED
III. AFM-EPF Trustees Ties to NCCMP — that’s a problem.
IV. EVENTS

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM THE COMMITTEE!

…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. Hollywood’s 1950s musicians union building
could become a city landmark

The “foremost entertainers and studio musicians”
of the 1950s were members of the union
by Bianca Barragan Nov 20, 2017, 1:33pm PST

A two-story commercial building built in the ’50s
for a musicians union may be added to the city’s
roster of historic-cultural landmarks. The Cultural
Heritage Commission voted Thursday to consider
the Musician’s Union Hall on Vine Street near
Waring Avenue as a potential monument.

The historians at Esotouric noted that while this
is the first step on the road to landmark status,
it’s something to be excited about. The property
owners, Lincoln Property Company, are not
contesting the designation, and a representative
from the office of Los Angeles City Council
member Mitch O’Farrell spoke in favor of the
landmarking.

Completed in 1950, the Musicians Union of
Hollywood was one of the final commissions
of architect Gordon B. Kaufmann before his
death in 1949. Kaufmann was the architect
behind the Greystone Mansion in Beverly
Hills, a 1930s-era section of the Los Angeles
Times’s Times Mirror Square complex in
Downtown, and Hollywood hotspots the
Earl Carroll Theater and the Palladium.

With its boxy form; concrete, steel, and
glass construction; and its bands of metal
framed windows, the union hall is considered
an excellent example of Corporate International
architectural style, says the planning
department’s report on the structure.

Until July of this year, the structure “served
as a clubhouse and organization headquarters
for the Musicians Union Local 47, now known
as the American Federation of Musicians
Local 47,” the report says.

Both the building and its interiors have been
altered over the years, but many vintage
features remain, including a 1950s-era sign
next to the building’s marquee that features
an eighth note festooned with a “47” ribbon
and the words “Professional Musicians”,
“Local 47”, and “American Federation of
Musicians, AFL-CIO.”

The “foremost entertainers and studio musicians
of the era” were members of the Local 47,
including the famed Wrecking Crew, a group
of studio musicians who were the go-to
players for such big names as The Beach
Boys, Phil Spector, Frank Sinatra, Elvis,
The Byrds, and Simon and Garfunkel.

Read the article here:
https://preview.tinyurl.com/yc5q8ajn

[Colleagues, There was one commenter named
DISGUSTED who obviously was an interested
party, even knowing the numbers of the union
members who voted to sell. {Sensing recording
musician or local leadership.} Totally trashed the
whole idea of it’s consideration as a historical
monument.]

 

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II. Musicians for Pension Security Honored in Washington DC

The Pension Rights Center honored seven activists
and financial columnist Michelle Singletary at an
event held on November 7th, 2017 at the Carnegie
Institution in Washington, D.C. One of the activists
honored was Adam Krauthamer who is currently
the Executive Director of Musicians for Pension Security.

The Center honored retiree and worker activists
for their work to stop pension cuts and to work
toward a solution to solve underfunding in
multiemployer plans and protect retirees’
benefits. In speaking about the activists,
Karen Friedman, the Center’s Executive
Vice President, called them, “supermen
and superwomen and some of the most
inspirational people I’ve ever met. They truly
represent democracy-in-action.” Friedman
went on to say that, “Many of these individuals,
shy at first, have become fearless warriors,
first-rate financial analysts and lobbyists. They
have created an unstoppable movement and
have inspired legislation.  I am convinced their
efforts will help stop pension cuts and save
multiemployer plans.” Read more about the event here.

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III. AFM-EPF Trustees Have Deep Ties to NCCMP
—and that’s a problem.

National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans
(NCCMP) is a trade association of multi-employer plans
in Washington DC. In 2014, they were instrumental in
formulating and passing MPRA, which is the law that
would allow cuts to our hard-earned pension benefits.

Our pension fund, the AFM-EPF, has deep connections
to the NCCMP going back many years. The AFM-EPF
is a dues-paying member of NCCMP and our AFM
trustees attend their conferences every year. Two of
our trustees, Christopher Brockmeyer and Bill Moriarity,
serve on NCCMP’s Board of Directors and Steering
Committee. Both have given lectures at those
conferences. Brockmeyer, the AFM-EPF’s trustee
co-chair, served on the NCCMP working group
which formulated the MPRA proposal.

MPRA has been a public policy disaster as many in
Congress on both sides of the aisle have openly
acknowledged. (Read the articles linked below.)
Even with bipartisan support to replace MPRA with
a much better alternative, the NCCMP is currently
fighting to preserve it and subvert current efforts to
replace it.

The alternative they are trying to block was recently
introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown and is called
the Butch Lewis Act, which would provide low-cost
government loans to troubled pension plans. The
proposed law would guarantee that all plan participants
receive 100% of their promised pension benefit.
This is a very worthy piece of legislation that
deserves our support and that of our trustees.

Unfortunately, NCCMP is circulating their own
proposal under which federal loans would not
be available to plans like the AFM-EPF plan.
Instead, the AFM-EPF plan would be forced to
stay under the current MPRA law and undergo
cuts to accrued benefits.

It would be a gross dereliction of duty for our
trustees to not actively support a legislative
proposal that preserves 100% of our hard-earned
pension benefits. That is what the Butch Lewis
Act does. We demand that the trustees reject
NCCMP’s attempt to undermine the Butch
Lewis Act.

ARTICLES ABOUT MPRA

Restoring pension accountability by giving
workers and retirees a seat at the table:
Rob Portman (Opinion)

https://preview.tinyurl.com/y9rkmaon

———————–

Portman Introduces Bill to Protect Pensions for 48,000 Ohioans

https://preview.tinyurl.com/y7jmdaxw

———————–

That awful congressional plan to allow pension cuts heads for enactment

https://preview.tinyurl.com/ybv2zt75

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MORE ABOUT NCCMP:

Home Page

NCCMP Team

 

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IV. EVENTS
DEAN AND RICHARD
are now at Culver City Elks the first 
Friday of 
every month.
7:30pm-10:30pm,
11160 Washington Pl.
Culver City, 90232
310-839-8891

————————————-

12/6/17

PRESS RELEASE/ Wed DECEMBER 6, 2017 at
12:10-12:40 pm at the Free Admission

GLENDALE NOON CONCERTS/ Cellist DEREK
STEIN performs solo works by Hindemith, Prokofiev,
Nicholas Deyoe, P.D.Q. Bach, and Penderecki.

The DEC 6 Press Release & a color photo jpeg
cellist DEREK STEIN are attached.
http://www.glendalenoonconcerts.blogspot.com
Thank you!
Jacqueline Suzuki
Curator, Glendale Noon Concerts
818 -249-5108

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12/6/17

First WEDNESDAYS: Joe Kraemer
Dec 6 @ 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm

Joe Kraemer will be discussing his compositional
process, from spotting, through thematic development,
composition, mocking-up, recording, and finally
mixing.  He will be including clips of his work
from JACK REACHER and MISSION
IMPOSSIBLE, including behind-the-scenes
footage and alternate cues, as well as examples
of sketches and conductor’s scores.

————————————

12/17/17

ASMAC/LAJS Holiday party @ Catalina’s in Hollywood

Dec 17 @ 11:30 am – 3:00 pm

Bill Cunliffe Trio with special guest Denise Donatelli
——————————————–

UNTIL NEXT TIME,

THE COMMITTEE FOR A MORE RESPONSIBLE LOCAL 47