Tell Congress to Protect Your Pension Benefits
In February 2018, Congress established a bipartisan Joint Select Committee on the Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans. This Committee was tasked with producing legislation by November 30, 2018 to address the dire solvency issues faced by over 120 multiemployer pension plans across the US, including the American Federation of Musicians and Employers' Pension Fund (AFM-EPF). While the Joint Select Committee members negotiated for weeks to reach a bipartisan compromise and made considerable progress, they were unable to agree on a solution by November 30, 2018.
Even so, there have been some new developments in Congress in 2019. In July 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 397, the "Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act." Also known as the "Butch Lewis Act," this bill would provide low-interest government loans to struggling multiemployer plans, including the AFM-EPF. If necessary, these loans can be coupled with additional financial assistance from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). The bill would provide a multiemployer plan with enough money to pay current retirees and beneficiaries their benefits for life, also allowing the plan to grow back to stronger financial footing. Thus far, the Senate version of the Butch Lewis Act (S2254) has not moved forward.
A second legislative proposal was released in November 2019 by Senators Charles Grassley and Lamar Alexander. This proposal would allow struggling multiemployer pension plans to "partition" (which means that they would transfer a portion of participants’ benefit liabilities to a second plan administered by the Trustees but funded by the PBGC) in order to remain solvent in the future. The original plans would no longer have to fund the benefit payments associated with these liabilities, which would put plans in a better position to regain their financial footing.
The AFM-EPF would qualify for a partition under this proposal. However, the Trustees do not support the proposal as drafted because it has serious flaws that would negatively affect our participants, our Plan and the multiemployer system as a whole. The current iteration of the proposal imposes overly burdensome benefit reductions, undermines union and employer support for plans, and excessively increases PBGC premiums. In fact, the total size of the Plan-wide benefit reduction could be greater under the Grassley-Alexander proposal than under the Plan’s proposed MPRA benefit reduction.
The Trustees (as well as the AFM and Plan employers) will continue advocating to Members of Congress that they move with urgency to produce a bipartisan solution that fully solves this crisis and treats our participants fairly. (For more information about the Trustees' efforts to secure a legislative solution, see the "Federal Legislation" section of our FAQ page
Members of Congress must hear directly from you.
The voices of our 50,000 participants, and those of other plans facing insolvency, will be vital in persuading Congress to produce and pass legislation this year that fully and fairly solves the crisis.
You can use the information below to:
Identify Your Members of Congress
- Identify your Members of Congress
- Plan what to say
- Call your Members of Congress
- Email your Members of Congress
and enter your address to find your Members of Congress.
Plan What to Say
Whether you are calling or emailing your Members of Congress, you will first need to tell them where you live (so that they know you are a constituent) and why you're reaching out. For example:
Remember, the most important thing is to tell your own story.
- My name is _____ and I live in [City, State].
- I am one of 50,000 participants in the American Federation of Musicians and Employers' Pension Fund. My Pension Plan is in "critical and declining" status and is projected to run out of money to pay our benefits. Because of that, the Pension Plan has applied to reduce our benefits under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act, effective January 1, 2021.
- We need Congress to take action now to protect our retirement security. HR 397, the "Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act," and S2254, the "Butch Lewis Act," provide a solution that would do just that.
- Please don't pass any legislation that would cause harm to participants or multiemployer plans.
- It is vital that the House and Senate agree this year on a bipartisan solution that restores the health of my Plan and the more than 120 other multiemployer pension plans across the nation facing insolvency.
Be polite, but make sure they understand that this issue is important to you, and that it will most definitely play a large role in how you vote in future elections.
Call your Members of Congress
Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and follow the prompts to reach the offices of your Members of Congress. You will either reach a staff member or be asked to leave a voicemail.
Email your Members of Congress
Use the button below to send an email to your Members of Congress. The forms contain suggested text, but it is important that you tell your own story.