Pension Fund Arbitration: Closing Arguments Set for Sept. 14

Volume CI, No. 9September, 2001

Closing arguments by legal counsel for the union trustees and employer trustees of the American Federation of Musicians & Employers’ Pension Fund will be presented on Sept. 14. At issue are proposals by the employer trustees to modify the Fund’s plan design (for details, see President’s Report in the July/August Allegro).

The proposals sparked a deadlock which, under Fund rules, must be resolved by an arbitrator. The process began on July 9, 10 and 11, as arbitrator Norman Brand heard testimony regarding the proposals presented by legal counsel for both groups of trustees.

On July 9 the employers – who bear the burden of proof and were, therefore, required to present first – called an actuarial consultant engaged by them, who testified as to plan design and pension fund cost, and recommended that the plan be modified in accordance with the employer proposals. He was followed by two of the employer trustees stating their reasons for making the proposals.

The following day, the union trustees’ legal counsel called ten witnesses – including six of the seven union trustees, the newly-elected AFM President and Secretary-Treasurer, and several rank-and-file musicians – to rebut the employers’ position.

This was followed on Wednesday, July 11, by a half day of testimony from an actuarial consultant engaged by the union trustees, who argued against the position of the previous actuary in every aspect of the proposals and testified that he saw no reason to change the plan.

This ended the evidentiary phase of the hearings, which were then recessed until Sept. 14, when closing arguments will be presented by both sides. The arbitrator is expected to issue a decision within 30 to 60 days following those arguments.