Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rich Union Officials Getting Richer...Off Tax Dollars

The Chicago Tribune reports on politics as usual in the city of Daley, Obama, Emanuel...and Capone.

And, by the way, given what's been outed about Omaha union pensions, the citizens of my fair city may be seeing in this news story signs of things to come.

All it took to give nearly two dozen labor leaders from Chicago a windfall worth millions was a few tweaks to a handful of sentences in the state's lengthy pension code.

The changes became law with no public debate among state legislators and, more importantly, no cost analysis.

Twenty years later, 23 retired union officials from Chicago stand to collect about $56 million from two ailing city pension funds thanks to the changes, a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation found.

Because the law bases the city pensions on the labor leaders' union salaries, they are reaping retirement benefits that far outstrip the modest salaries they made as city employees. On average, their pensions are nearly three times higher than what the typical retired city worker receives.

No one from either the state Legislature or city government will take credit for the law, which passed in 1991, and the process of drafting pension legislation in Springfield is so shrouded in secrecy that there's no way of knowing exactly whom to hold responsible...

Pension experts from around the country say they've never heard of such a perk for union leaders. They warn that it not only creates opportunities to scam the system but also robs the city of its ability to control pension costs. The city doesn't set union salaries, the most important ingredient in determining the size of the leaders' pensions.

What's more, none of the labor officials retired in the traditional sense. Even as they collected their inflated city pensions, they held on to their high-paying union jobs. A decade ago, those public pension funds were flush, but they're now in such deep financial trouble that they threaten to burden taxpayers and dues-paying union workers alike...

Here's more on this ugly story.