Friday, September 2, 2011

Union leader Thomas Villanova draws lucrative $108,000 pension perk (on top of his salary) based on false information

Every month, Thomas Villanova gets a $9,000 reminder of how lucrative it can be to serve as a union leader in Chicago.

The sum is part of a city pension that comes on top of the $198,000 annual salary he is paid to represent the interests of thousands of city workers.

Villanova last worked for the city in 1989 as an electrical mechanic with the Department of Streets and Sanitation, making about $40,000 a year. Yet in 2008 he was allowed to retire at age 56 with a $108,000 city pension. That's because, under a little-known state law, his pension was based not on his city paycheck but on his much higher union salary.

This kind of deal is available only to union officials who meet certain requirements, but a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation has uncovered documents that show Villanova violated state law when he applied for the pension and cast doubt on whether he truly qualifies for all that money.

To boost his taxpayer-supported city pension, Villanova signed documents certifying that he had waived his union pension and had two union officials write letters supporting his claim. In fact, records show dues collected from the rank-and-file were still set aside for Villanova's union pension. more