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.     www.musiciansforpensionsecurity.com




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


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