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Defeatism is No Answer to Our Pension Crisis

Dear Fellow Musicians,
The theme of the Musicians for Change campaign is bringing about a better future for the musicians of New York. This past Friday, MFC announced a comprehensive plan to serve the business needs of young musicians, freelancers, jazz musicians, indie musicians, club date musicians and all other sectors of our community (see here). Our platform (see here), which was released several weeks ago, contains many ideas and initiatives that will strengthen this union and provide more security for the membership.
The Members Party claims that MFC’s campaign is centered solely on the pension crisis which is clearly not the case. These claims, and attacks on our advocacy on behalf of musicians, have become more frequent so I thought it was time to say a few things about the pension, and why it’s relevant to 802 members.
As President of 802, I intend to be a tenacious advocate for musicians. That includes defending their interests in the pension crisis. It appears the current Local 802 leadership wants us all to sit back and do what the AFM-EPF trustees tell us to do. That kind of passivity is unacceptable to me.
The Members Party says that the pension crisis is not a Local 802 issue. Local 802 is the largest local within the AFM. Many of our members will suffer terribly if the trustees go through with their plan to cut our pensions. If the pension crisis is not a Local 802 issue, then where do musicians get to voice their disapproval with the way the pension has been handled? Where does democracy get exercised? And when do trustees – like President Gagliardi – start facing the consequences for their failed record on the pension?
In early 2017, many fellow 802 musicians were very concerned about the impending pension crisis and urged current 802 leadership to thoughtfully address the problem. That never happened. So a group of concerned 802 members formed Musicians for Pension Security to fill the void in leadership left by the Gagliardi administration.
It seems the current 802 leadership wants us all to quietly accept deep cuts to our pensions. They ridicule our proposals while they have brought none of their own to the table. They say that Musicians for Pension Security “has accomplished nothing.” If MPS has done nothing else, we have shone a bright light on the mismanagement by the pension fund trustees and have exposed their efforts to deny responsibility for the pension crisis.

Through the activism of MPS: We have challenged the trustees to bring true experts onto the AFM-EPF Board of Trustees, to bring in more employer contributions, to do better on expenses and investments, and to truly advocate for our interests in Washington DC. We proposed the MPS Action Plan, which would lead to much lighter cuts, and the MPS Legislative Plan, which would lead to more transparency and democracy in the way cuts to our benefits are made.

  • Voters who want more detail on the MPS Action Plan can click here.

  • A detailed explanation of increasing employer contributions, one part of the Action Plan where there has been some misunderstanding, can be found here.

  • For more detail on our Legislative Plan click here.

We repeatedly offered to sit down with the trustees to discuss these proposals. We were met with silence. The fact that Tino Gagliardi and the other trustees choose to ignore these sensible reforms speaks to their own failed leadership.
The Members Party says 802 “will lose its voice” with the AFM-EPF if I become President. To the contrary, 802 will finally gain a voice.
The voters too have a voice, and I urge you to exercise it by voting for Musicians for Change on December 4th.

Adam Krauthamer

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