US musicians raise alarm about their union pension fund

US musicians raise alarm about their union pension fund


norman lebrecht

April 23, 2017

We have been sent a link to ‘a newly formed pension awareness group’ of US-based musicians who are worried about the management of the AFM pension pot.

Here’s how it begins:

As you may have heard, our hard-earned pension benefits could be slashed to a negligible monthly payout once we retire. Our Fund Trustees say this is due to a series of unfortunate events, but it seems more and more clear that the true unfortunate event is that they are responsible for a decade of poor performance, and have been less than transparent about the health of the Fund. 

It’s true that in 2008 we incurred catastrophic losses to our pension fund. That was a terrible year in the market for all, and during that crash almost every multiemployer fund suffered substantial losses. But our pension fund performed much worse … AFM-EPF lost nearly 40% (AFM website)  of assets spanning the 18 months surrounding the crash, while other funds suffered an average of 25%. After that difficult period, the majority of multiemployer pension funds bounced back, and 60% of those plans were back in the Green Zone by 2011 (PBGC). Not ours, however. The AFM-EPF fund continued to underperform every single year.

Let’s talk numbers here for a minute… 

Read on here.


  • Steve P says:

    Interesting read. Would seem there are legit concerns going forward. Hope this works out for the best for the musicians.

    • Donald Knaack says:

      The Union does everything in its power to disqualify musicians from getting a pension. I know, as they did it to me. The Actor’s union does the same thing. This could and should be a huge class action law suit.

  • Bernie Madeoff says:

    Hate to say it, but they appear to have been screwed over by the “25 professional investment managers with proven long-term track records” (website reference) in a desperate attempt to achieve 7.5% annual yields by chasing high risk “investments” in an environment with persistent near-zero interest rates. They would have done better with a combination of Treasury bills, stuffing cash in a mattress and holding 25% physical gold and silver outside the banking system, than entrusting anything to such “experts” who work together with the big banks to cream off fat commissions on every transaction. Perhaps the situation can still be remedied by firing said “professionals” and the trustees.

  • Marilyn Coyne says:

    Thank you for putting this information out there for the public to see..

  • Brian says:

    Very saddening information. There are unscrupulous investment professionals getting filthy rich off the retirement assets of very modestly paid musicians, through simply rewarding themselves without proper checks and balances.
    I would be very interested to know if this is the case also with the Canadian side (also A.F. of M.), but I think (and hope!) it’s a differently managed pension fund.

  • Sean says:

    Why can’t the musicians manage the fund themselves. Using the fund manager never works.

  • BlueTrombone says:

    I was a member of the AFofM back in the late 60s, all of the 70s and some of the 80s. When I applied for my pension, I was told that it had been “Forfeited”. It might benefit some, but for me and many others, it’s a scam! I’m still active as a musician and arranger and doing well without ‘the union’ thank you.

  • Stewart frankel says:

    “Here is a copy of the union members’ suit, filed on July 14, posted in full’