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Chicago Union ‘Pensions’ Give $56M To 23

From the Chicago Tribune:

Law gives huge pension perks to union leaders

In all, 23 expected to collect combined $56 million in their lifetimes

By Jason Grotto, Tribune reporter
September 21, 2011

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

And yet later in the article we are told who are primarily responsible. The man who made Barack Obama’s political career, then Illinois Senate Majority Leader Emil Jones, and the Daley family.

Making changes won’t be easy, however. That’s because the state constitution says pension benefits cannot be diminished once they are earned.

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

Records show the top earners are:

• Liberato "Al" Naimoli, president of the Cement Workers Union Local 76. He retired last year from a $15,000-a-year city job that he last held a quarter-century ago. Today, Naimoli receives more than $13,000 a month from the city laborers’ pension fund even as he continues to earn nearly $300,000 annually as president of Local 76. His city laborers’ pension will pay him about $4 million during his lifetime, according to a Tribune/WGN-TV analysis based on the funds’ actuarial assumptions.

• James McNally, vice president of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150. He receives nearly $115,000 a year even though at the time he retired, in 2008, he had not worked for the city in more than 13 years. He was only 51 when he started collecting a city pension. By the time he turns 78, he will have received roughly $4 million from the city laborers’ fund.

• Dennis Gannon, former president of the Chicago Federation of Labor. In 2004, he began receiving more than $150,000 a year after retiring at age 50 from a $56,000-a-year city job that he had left nearly 13 years earlier. He received his city pension while collecting a salary of about $200,000 from the federation. During his lifetime, the city municipal pension fund will pay him approximately $5 million

Apparently, here is who is responsible, and the trick they used to quietly slip in these provisions:

Here’s what is clear: In April 1990, then-Sen. Emil Jones presented a bill aimed at increasing pension benefits for city employees in the municipal pension fund.

Lest we forget, Emil Jones was Barack Obama’s mentor in the Illinois legislature. In fact, according to some, Emil Jones made Barack Obama.

Changes to Illinois law often begin with something known as a shell bill, which usually alters one word or date in a specific article and section of the code. Shell bills are a type of placeholder that allows lawmakers to make more substantive changes later in the session, often without scrutiny.

Many of the pension provisions inserted in 1991 had corresponding shell bills that previously altered one word or date of the same article, section and paragraph. Among them was a bill that made a minor change to the exact section and paragraph where the union perk would be codified.

That bill was filed by two men who were state senators at the time: Jeremiah Joyce, a close political ally of former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s, and John Daley, a brother of the former mayor’s and now a Cook County commissioner

Two days after the pension changes passed the Legislature, the city’s unions lined up to endorse Mayor Daley in his first re-election campaign. He would go on to serve as mayor for the next 20 years with firm support from organized labor

Of course, the Daley family helped Barack Obama and Michelle throughout their brief careers in Chicago. In fact, they are still helping the Obamas, as Richard’s brother, William Daley, is currently Mr. Obama’s chief of staff.

And of course Obama is still helping the unions in his fashion. It’s ‘the Chicago way.’

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Thursday, September 22nd, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

7 Responses to “Chicago Union ‘Pensions’ Give $56M To 23”

  1. GetBackJack

    If you heard that, it was my head exploding

  2. P. Aaron

    These guys are now part of ‘the richest 1% that Obama says should ‘pay more’ taxes. Hope they’re ready to ‘contribute’.

  3. proreason

    The 23 were all probably very well meaning during their careers.

  4. mr_bill

    Caligula would blush at the levels of political incest and fornication in liberal circles. These people see government as nothing but a means to loot as much as they can from anybody who will tolerate it, including their own people.

    I have two theories on why liberals seem to despise the “rich” so much:
    1) liberals have utilized graft, theft and fraud to obtain their money so they think everybody who has money is as guilty as they are in their means to obtain it.

    2) liberals have utilized graft, theft, and fraud to obtain their money and are incapable of actually doing the work that others have done to obtain legitimate professional success. Hence they are jealous, scornful and derisive towards those who have come by their wealth through hard work, foresight, preseverance, etc.

  5. sticks

    Soon SEIU workers will be demonstrating outside these 23 peoples houses and demanding they give the money back.

  6. Papa Louie

    It seems Obama only hates non-union millionaires.




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