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Philly POPS Management to Pay Debt to its Musicians

Almost a year following the lawsuit, the Philly POPS has stated it will provide its musicians with $300,000 in unpaid wages


A Pennsylvania magistrate judge has approved a $300,000 settlement between the Philly POPS and its orchestra musicians, who are represented by American Federation of Musicians (AFM) union Local 77.

In March 2023, AFM Local 77 filed a lawsuit claiming the POPS musicians were not paid or provided benefits for two 2022 Christmas performances and broadcasts at Kimmel Center.

The lawsuit requested for musicians’ wages, late fees, and contributions to pension plans — totaling $313,472.55 — while also noting that late-payment penalties would continue accruing. 

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, POPS management disputed the amount in April 2023, but did not give a monetary figure of their own accounting.

“The stipulated judgment amount will be distributed directly to musicians to compensate them for unpaid wages, unpaid allied benefits, contractual late fees, and post-judgment interest,” AFM Local 77’s attorneys told NBC10 on the settlement. “No portion of any amount actually collected will be paid in attorney’s fees.”

Of the total settlement, $226,000 will go to wages, pension, and health and welfare, with the balance to resolve late fees, said AFM lawyer Jennifer P. Garner

Due to its circumstances, the Philly POPS was placed on the AFM International Unfair List in March 2023. This listing states that union members are not allowed to accept work with the group. 

For the ban to be lifted, POPS management must settle other obligations to musicians, which includes other back payments to the pension fund, explained AFM Local 77’s president Ellen Trainer.

“As professional musicians, we must take a stand against employers who violate contractual agreements,” reads AFM Local 77’s website. “It is unacceptable for any employer to withhold payment to musicians, payment to pensions, and payment for our union protections.”

Consequently, the POPS musicians have created a new successor orchestra, the No Name Pops — whose first concert was held in October 2023. This season, the POPS’ popular annual Christmas program will be presented by the No Name Pops at Kimmel Center. 

“We continue to explore all options in an ongoing effort to settle our obligations from last season. This filing is one of several efforts to do so,” POPS president and CEO Karen Corbin told the Philadelphia Inquirer.


Separately, Philly POP’s antitrust lawsuit against the Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center Inc. (POKC) is still pending. POKC evicted the POPS from Verizon Hall in January 2023 over back rent and other fees owed by the orchestra. 


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