By Howard Rich
As Barack Obama’s radical appointees on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) continue their jihad against American jobs and the free market economy, many have wondered: From where does Obama get the nerve? Based on what warped ideological mooring does the leader of the free world summon the “audacity” to tell private companies where they can (or in Boeing’s case, “can’t”) locate new jobs?
That’s easy — it’s “The Chicago Way.”
Obama’s hometown sets the standard for union appeasement — although a quick look at the Windy City’s pro-union excesses reveals just how corrupt and unsustainable such practices are.
Earlier this month, The Chicago Tribune reported that 23 retired union leaders will collect $56 million from cash-strapped government pension funds — courtesy of a few well-placed lines that were quietly inserted into the state’s 1991 labor law (with no public debate or cost-benefit analysis). It’s the latest in a long line of flagrant abuses — handouts from corrupt politicians who continue to game the system for the personal benefit of a select, powerful few.
For six decades city government workers in Chicago have been granted “leaves of absence” enabling them to work full-time for the unions while retaining their city benefits (including generous pensions). While such an arrangement is patently unfair to taxpayers and should never have been adopted in the first place, some of the abuses that have occurred under its ever-expanding auspices are downright shocking.
For example, the Tribune recently reported on the story of Dennis Gannon — former president of the Chicago Federation of Labor. Gannon has pocketed $1 million in pension fund payments over the last seven years and is in line to receive $5 million more — a level of compensation five times greater than what the typical government retiree receives.
How did Gannon get such a sweetheart deal? The City of Chicago hired him for a single day back in 1994 — and then granted him an “indefinite leave of absence.” Not only that, they pegged his pension amount to his inflated union salary.
Incidentally, Gannon now draws his exorbitant benefits on top of a six-figure salary from a hedge fund that manages public pensions — and was one of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s most generous campaign contributors.
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