Cleveland Musicians' Union President Talks Proposed Pension Cuts

A row of trumpets players.
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Musicians across the country are poised to see pension cuts.

The American Federation of Musicians and Employer's Fund (AFM-EPF) is applying to the U.S. Treasury to cut benefit payouts to prevent the fund from running out of money. It is unclear how much the cuts would be for participants.  

This affects thousands of musicians across the country and hundreds here in Northeast Ohio.

“I’m encouraging them not to panic,” said Leonard DiCosimo, president of the Cleveland Federation of Musicians, Local 4.

The union represents around 500 performers in Northeast Ohio, including Playhouse Square players, Cleveland Orchestra members and freelance musicians.

The current financial issues of the pension fund date back to the 90’s when there was a surplus and trustees increased payouts, DiCosimo said.

“Perhaps it would have been better for the health of the financial fund if the increases were temporary,” he said.

While that eventually changed, DiCosimo said he voiced his concerns to the current leadership that reductions should be equitable for participants.

Local management groups have been less interested in participating in the AFM-EPF, which is allowed to access an extra charge on employers to bolster the fund.

“Those dollars do not go to any individual musician’s account, but they go to the financial health and stability of the fund,” DiCosimo said.

The AFM-EPF is also lobbying Congress for help and encouraging participants to do the same.

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