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Ron Radosh

This story, had it come out a bit earlier, would have been the perfect Labor Day special. It is not what the AFL-CIO union bosses want their membership to hear.

We all recall President Obama standing on the podium with Richard Trumka and the other labor chieftains, talking about the need to “take out” the Republicans and give the working man the dignity, salaries, and other perks they need to end income inequality and to become empowered. “Tax the rich,” they all scream — apply the “Buffett law” and see to it that the regular employee pays a lower tax than the greedy billionaire, who, like Warren Buffett, sets up businesses, employs people who earn a living, and yet supposedly engages in no activity of a worthwhile nature except to see to it that he personally gets rich. As old Karl Marx might have once said, confiscate the property of the bourgeoisie, redistribute the wealth to the working class, and allow them to become the masters of society.

Well, it seems that Marx’s dream is coming true in Chicago, but not exactly in the manner in which he thought it would occur. No social revolution, no mass movement, no movement of the working class to power with the “Long March” through existing institutions that the Gramscian New Left once proposed. Instead, it is taking place through the long evolved mechanism of Chicago-style corruption, developed over the years by the senior Richard Daley machine in the city that started Barack Obama on his way to political power.

So kudos to the Chicago Tribune for breaking this news to its readers, who can now ask Mayor Rahm Emanuel to do something to change the political culture. Emanuel is now the local leader, having gained the post after leaving his city for White House service and returning to it after having used national duty to obtain what previously had eluded him — the top political spot in his home town.

So here is the news.  For a  former labor boss named Dennis Gannon, it has now been revealed, “the keys to securing a public pension were one day on the city payroll and some help from the Daley administration.”

The story goes on to note that “his city pension is more than modest. It’s the highest of any retired union leader: $158,000. That’s roughly five times greater than what the typical retired city worker receives.” You have not misread this figure.  It is so high that it is usually forbidden by federal limits to what one can get in a pension, so the Daley machine had to file a special request with the IRS to allow him to get it. If you owe them some back taxes, simply do the same next time. Give them this story, and file a “special request.” But don’t count on it, unless you live in Chicago and know Rahm very well!

The Tribune goes further, spelling out the significance of the deal, way beyond what it meant for Mr. Gannon. They explain:

Gannon’s inflated pension is a prime example of how government officials and labor leaders have manipulated city pension funds at the expense of union workers and taxpayers. Like other labor leaders, he was able to take a long leave from a city job to work for a union and then receive a city pension based on a high union salary.

But in a new twist, a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation has found that Gannon is eligible for the lucrative pension deal only because City Hall rehired the former Streets and Sanitation Department worker for a single day in 1994, then granted him an indefinite leave of absence.

We used to call this a “sweetheart deal,” an arrangement going way beyond the old “double dipping” which takes place when a city worker retires and then is hired by another city agency to earn a full-time salary on top of his already high union pension.  Why work at a new job, Gannon figured, when all he has to do is work one day and get the equivalent salary for the rest of his life? Yeah, evidently it is legal, and he took what he could get. But unlike the Warren Buffetts of the world, who hire people and set up businesses, he is giving nothing to anyone but himself. As he probably says, “nothing is too good for the working class,” especially when they can use the system and not have to work at all.

He is described as “one of the most powerful” labor leaders in Chicago, a man who became president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, sitting in AFL-CIO executive board meetings for years. There, he could help plan national labor strategy and work out deals with Democratic White Houses to advance union power, or work to oust a Republican executive branch by buffing up the national union’s lobbying force.

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