…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







A nonprofit organization created to run the San Antonio
Symphony announced Wednesday it will no longer take
over the troubled orchestra due to a potential multimillion
dollar pension obligation.


Symphonic Music for San Antonio Chairman Bruce Bugg
Jr. said the musicians’ union — the American Federation of
Musicians — told him of an underfunded pension obligation
of more than $4 million. Now, the management group has
decided to hand back responsibility to the Symphony Society
of San Antonio, which managed the symphony since its creation
in 1939.

“We’ve contributed over $2 million since May of this year just to
keep the symphonic season going,” Bugg said. “Those funds
went to pay the salaries of musicians and other expenses.”

Symphonic Music was created on July 19 with the intent of taking
over the symphony’s business operations Aug. 31. That is, until
an audit uncovered an unexpected cost, Bugg said.

“How we got to where we find ourselves today is we had asked
for the audited financial statements of the Symphony Society
of San Antonio for the period ending Aug. 31, 2016,” he said.

“That audit showed zero mention of any [underfunded] pension

We made it clear from the beginning that we were not in the
position at (Symphonic Music) to assume liabilities. We were
only in a position to move forward.”

Alice Viroslav, chairman of the Symphony Society of San Antonio,
confirmed the shortfall, citing a dip in the stock market and
possible mismanagement of the pension.
“So everyone in the pension is underfunded,” she said. “The
pension is a huge multi-employer plan. And the pension itself
has lost over 40 percent in overall value in the stock market in
2008 and never fully recovered from that.

“And there’s actually an active lawsuit right now against the
pension itself by some AFM musicians because exactly the
issues that we’re talking about. So this has nothing to do with
anything that we did. This has to do with the overall management
of the pension fund.”

Meanwhile, Craig Sorgi, a member of the San Antonio Symphony
and union chairman, sent a news release late Wednesday in
response to Bugg and Symphonic Music’s decision that it will no
longer manage the symphony due to the pension obligation.

“The board members of Symphonic Music for San Antonio are
attempting to excuse their abandonment of the San Antonio
Symphony by using the AFM pension plan as their scapegoat.
This is a false excuse,” the statement read. “… The SMSA board
members spent months proclaiming themselves the saviors of
the San Antonio Symphony. Now, like spoiled children, they have
decided to pick up their marbles and leave because they couldn’t
get their way on everything, including having to deal with a pesky
Union that didn’t think reducing outstandingly skilled musicians’
already-low pay scales was a very good idea.”



Something stinks, and it ain’t in Denmark. 1st we have a thinly
disguised attempt by the Tobin Center to get the symphony to
do their bidding and get rid of the pesky conflicts that have been
plaguing them from the get-go, and now we have them dropping
the deal like a hot rock, right after talks with the union fail. Since
they’ve known about the “unfunded liability: for a month — during
the negotiations, mind you — I question the real reason for their
sudden and unconscionable withdrawal from their obligations
which were self-imposed in the first place.

I foresee a long and ugly lawsuit on the horizon. And sadly,
a city without a symphony.




WAIT a second…..!
Why did Bruce Bugg and SMSA sit on this information for a
month? They learned of the so-called underfunded pension
on November 21.

Why is it news…One Month Later??



I see one big problem in the above quotes from Bruce
Bugg and Alice Viroslav:
“Unfunded” and “underfunded” are not the same thing.
Is this a deliberate slip of the tongue, or careless wording
by the chairman of SMSA?




Symphony musicians hope for last-minute agreement
By Steve Bennett
December 28, 2017 Updated: December 28, 2017 8:22pm

With the San Antonio Symphony musicians’ contract set to expire Sunday,
an orchestra representative said next week’s Tricentennial celebration
concerts are up in the air.

While hanging onto hope that labor talks will continue, musicians on
Thursday also blasted a nonprofit group that was expected to assume
orchestra management for what they called “a union-busting power play.”

“At this point, we plan to be at rehearsal on Jan. 3,” said symphony
violinist Craig Sorgi, negotiating chairman of the Musicians of the
San Antonio Symphony. “There have been no cancellations, no work
stoppages, and there is still time on the clock to come to an agreement.
It’s not impossible.”

San Antonio supermarket chain H-E-B, the Tobin Endowment
and the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation set up the nonprofit
Symphonic Music for San Antonio and announced plans in
July to take over the symphony’s assets and operations
from the 78-year-old symphony society by Sept. 1.

The group announced Wednesday that it had pulled out of
the deal, citing a $4 million liability related to the musicians’
pension fund, which it said was disclosed recently in a letter
from the American Federation of Musicians & Employers’
Pension Fund.

San Antonio supermarket chain H-E-B, the Tobin Endowment
and the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation set up the nonprofit
Symphonic Music for San Antonio and announced plans in
July to take over the symphony’s assets and operations from
the 78-year-old symphony society by Sept. 1.

The group announced Wednesday that it had pulled out of the
deal, citing a $4 million liability related to the musicians’ pension
fund, which it said was disclosed recently in a letter from the
American Federation of Musicians & Employers’ Pension Fund.

Bruce Bugg, chairman of Symphonic Music for San Antonio,
acknowledged on Thursday that he made a mistake in citing the
number, which was a reference to the multiemployer pension’s
net unfunded vested benefits of $4.5 billion.

The symphony musicians had pointed out the mistake in a
statement released Thursday.
“The pension fund letter identifies a $4.5 billion number for the
fund’s total net unfunded vested benefits aggregated of all
participating employers nationwide and all participating
employees nationwide,” according to the statement.
“This is not a liability figure of the (Symphony Society
of San Antonio).”

However, Bugg insisted the symphony society was potentially
liable for $8.9 million, which the letter identifies as an
“estimated withdrawal liability,” and that it remains a

“I don’t see a path forward working with the symphony
society, given what has been exposed in this letter,” he said.

Musicians countered that the figure was “grossly false.”

“Right now, there is no debt that the symphony society
owes the pension fund,” said symphony bassoonist Brian
Petkovich, secretary-treasurer of the local musicians’ union.
“The annual payment that the symphony society makes
to the fund is $120,000, which is such a small part of the
symphony’s budget (of $7.6 million). That shouldn’t
keep the orchestra from being onstage.”

Alice B. Viroslav, a San Antonio physician recently elected
board chairwoman of the symphony society, also said the
symphony is not in debt to the pension fund.

“The pension penalty is solely related to the shortfall of the
overall pension fund,” she wrote in an email. “The symphony
was and has always been current on all payments to the pension.”

Chicago arts consultant Drew McManus said the pension
fund liabilities did not mean that the symphony society
was “in arrears.”

“Withdrawal liabilities only kick in when you pull out of
the fund,” he said.

A symphony society board meeting to discuss all these matters
is scheduled for Tuesday.

“Really, were in a wait-and-see mode right now for what
the other side is going to do,” Petkovich said.

As far as next week’s and upcoming concerts, he added,
“We’re really up in the air.”


interesting story & comments at about
Local 47 falsely accusing a company of doing
a non-union session. Thoughts?




are now at Culver City Elks the first 
Friday of 
every month.
11160 Washington Pl.
Culver City, 90232




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  1. anonimoso says:

    many orchestras now have pension funds which are grossly underfunded,
    and yet mostly the musicians are naive about it all, and just blindly
    count on the bread being there for them at age 65; but it won’t. if you
    are in an orchestra, bug the committee to make sure your pension is
    funded up to date per the contract; do not count on the Union to do anything
    about enforcing the contribution…

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