By Jeff Lunden
Trustees of the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund (AFM-EPF) announced the evening of May 24 that they will apply to the U.S. Treasury for a reduction in member benefits, due to the AFM-EPF’s “critical and declining” status – meaning the fund is projected to run out of money in 20 years. The AFM represents 80,000 professionals in the United States and Canada who play in symphony orchestras and opera houses, on Broadway, in film and television, and on studio recordings. Approximately 50,000 AFM members participate in the pension fund, and it’s estimated that 20,000 of them will eventually see a reduction in their pension benefits.
“The pension is a symptom of a much bigger problem with the AFM and what was going on at Local 802,” says Adam Krauthamer, the newly elected president of the New York local and the executive director of Musicians for Pension Security, a group which is educating musicians and trying to find solutions to this issue. “The musicians’ national union has seen large drops in membership, less and less work under contract. And, seemingly, for musicians my age,” says the 38-year-old, “there was no real serious effort to address changing the future.”