Andy Snitzer and Paul Livant, the named plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against the trustees of the American Federation of Musicians and Employers Pension Fund (AFM-EPF), received a service award of $10,000 each when that case settled. Rather than keep their awards, which compensated them for their time and the risks they took on, they decided to donate the full amount of their award to the Pension Rights Center.
According to Snitzer, “Our participation in the case was never about us, and we wanted our awards to be used to advocate for the pension rights of workers and retirees. We felt that donating the award to the Pension Rights Center was the best way to accomplish this.”
Livant added “we got a glimpse into the Pension Right Center’s efforts when they provided so much help to so many musicians whose pensions are now threatened by the mismanagement of our fund.”
“When Andy and Paul called us to say they wanted to give us their Service Award, we were so thankful and so honored,” says Karen Friedman, PRC’s Executive Vice President. “They earned that Service Award for the work they did on behalf of the whole class, but they are selflessly giving it to PRC. Their donation will enable us to continue assisting musicians, as well as other workers and retirees across the country. Our values are aligned with their values.”
The lawsuit in which Snitzer and Livant were plaintiffs alleged that the trustees invested too much of the plan’s assets in very high-risk investments, that they paid high fees to consultants and others, and intentionally misled the participants about the fund’s financial status. The lawsuit was settled, with trustee’s insurers agreeing to pay more than $26 million. Trustees also agreed to allow financial oversight of their investment activities, in the form of a neutral independent trustee.
The Pension Rights Center has provided assistance to both retired and active musicians to help them fight proposed cuts to their pensions. In March of 2020, PRC joined more than 180 retired musicians to urge the U.S. Treasury Department to deny the MPRA application filed by AFM-EPF trustees. The application sought to slash retirees’ benefits by up to 40 percent.
While the Treasury Department did in fact reject the fund’s application, in August of 2020, the AFM-EPF recently filed a second application seeking to cut participant’s benefits. The Center will be working to help musicians oppose that application, as well as advocating for a comprehensive legislative solution to the multiemployer crisis.