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New Law Causes Musicians’ Pension Trustees to Rethink Benefit Cuts

For Immediate ReleaseContact: Karen Friedman, 202-320-6518
March 26, 2021www.pensionrights.org

Tens of thousands of musicians— pianists, trumpeters, celloists, saxophonists and others— who were fighting cuts to their pensions are reaping immediate gains from the newly enacted Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act, which was passed as part of the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 aid package, known as the American Rescue Plan Act.

With the new pension provisions now in place, the trustees of the American Federation of Musicians Employers Pension Fund (AFM-EPF) announced that they  "decided to withdraw the plan’s application” to the U.S. Treasury Department to reduce benefits for about one-half of the plan’s 50,000 members under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (better known as MPRA). MPRA permits certain financially distressed plans to cut its retirees’ and workers’ pensions to shore up the plan’s finances.

Steve Nathan, a retired pianist from Nashville, is thankful his pension will be safe.

He told us that, "If not for the action of Congress to pass badly needed legislation to protect our pensions, many of my fellow musicians and I would be now bracing to withstand devastating cuts. I will remain grateful from here to the final coda to all those who made this day possible."

Under the new law, Congress will provide an estimated $86 billion to inject financial stability to an estimated 150-200 underfunded multiemployer plans, ensuring that workers and retirees’ benefits are protected for at least 30 years.

“This is wonderful news,” said Karen Friedman. “We have been working with retired and active musicians to try to halt the plan’s effort to cut their benefits and we are thrilled that the plan has rethought its decision in light of the new law. Now we hope that all plans that were in the process of applying for benefit cuts will also stop pursuing these unfair MPRA applications.”

The new law is projected to save the pensions of about 1.5 million working men and women, including musicians, truck drivers, grocery store and bakery workers, construction and iron workers, nurses and health care workers.

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