Chicago’s Unholy Alliance of Government and Unions

A humble electrical mechanic working for the City of Chicago’s Department of Streets and Sanitation for about $40,000 a year quit his job in 1989 when he was 37 years old. He has never worked for the city since then. Almost 20 years later, still at the very active age of 56, he “retires” from the job which he hasn’t worked on for two decades with a city pension of $108,000 a year.

How does this happen?

Chicago Tribune tells us how: Thomas Villanova, a union capo in Chicago, applied for city pension based not on his city salary but on his salary as a union leader, which is 5 times higher. Now, our common sense and moral convictions may be telling most of us that the pension based on his union salary should be paid by the unions, not by the taxpayers. But Illinois is a “progressive” state and laws in it are never made based on such medieval and outdated notions like common sense or moral convictions. Apparently, the state law allows for the state to pay the higher pension – taking it from the taxpayers, of course – provided the pensioner declares that he has waived his union pension. So he signed. Of course, union capos sign all kinds of things, and promise all kinds of things, and declare all kinds of things, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they mean what they sign. It turns out he in fact keeps contributing to his union pension, and when he retires from the union, he’ll be getting that one too. Fraud is the best word one can use to describe this.

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Well, we can’t blame the city officials, can we? They just acted based on the papers they were submitted. Not exactly. A year later they discovered that he never waived his union pension. Did they take away his city pension benefits?


More was discovered. According to that same law, Villanova can receive a city pension only if he was on a leave from his city job to work full time for a union. He wasn’t. He filed a leave to go to school, and that leave expired in 1992.

But he is still getting a six-figure pension from the taxpayers, and will be getting another six-figure pension from the dues paid by the workers he “represents.” The workers, of course, pay twice: once as taxpayers, and then again as union members.

The “system” in Chicago works, apparently. The tax-payers pay lucrative salaries to union bosses, by law. All it takes is for a union boss to get a city job and then take a leave to work for a union. Then the union can raise his salary indefinitely. And the tax-payers pay the large pension. And even when fraud is committed, and discovered, the city officials do nothing. An unholy alliance of government and unions against the taxpayers is at work.

If this is not Mafia, I don’t know what is.

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