“This is a plan that will work. This is a plan that will work without cuts.” -Senator Sherrod Brown
Just last week, on November 16, many of you received the email from AFM President Ray Hair regarding recently proposed legislation to assist multiemployer pension funds by US Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). In the email, President Hair says:
"I have been in direct communication with Senator Brown's staff regarding this legislation. Now that the legislation has officially been introduced, the Trustees of American Federation of Musicians and Employers' Pension Fund (AFM-EPF) will carefully review its specifics to determine if it addresses the issues confronting the AFM-EPF..."
Encouraging words, but so far the Trustees' position on this potentially very helpful piece of legislation has been extremely skeptical. Here's what Local 802 President and AFM-EPF Trustee Tino Gagliardi said about Senator Brown's legislation just a few weeks ago at a Local 802 membership meeting:
"The Trustees would consider favorably and support a legislative proposal that will help the fund and that stands a chance of passing this Congress and being signed into law. As we have witnessed so far in 2017, this seems to be a very high bar.”
In 2014 the AFM-EPF Trustees fully participated in getting MPRA passed. They traveled to Washington DC to engage with the trade groups, the multiemployer pension community, and policymakers. (MPRA is the law that allows Trustees to cut our accrued benefits. Read more about MPRA here.) But now, our Trustees are taking a skeptical position and have yet to make a meaningful effort to proactively find a legislative solution to our pension crisis that doesn't start with them making cuts to our existing benefits.
MPS has been working with Senator Brown's staff on this legislation for 2 months and recently brokered a meeting between the Senator’s team and the AFM-EPF Trustees. We have also relayed several requests for information that would be helpful to assess the benefits of Brown's proposal from his office to the AFM-EPF. To this date, outside of that single meeting, there has been zero cooperation from the AFM-EPF. All requests for assistance from Senator Brown's staff have been turned down flat by our Trustees.
So, while we are glad for the encouraging words from President Ray Hair, what we really need to see is action.
Read more about Senator Brown’s proposal:
Senator Sherrod Brown and Congressman Richard Neal Introduce bills to save financially troubled multiemployer plans and protect retirees
Teamsters Support Brown-Neal Legislation to Solve Pension Crisis