You would be hard-pressed to find a more graphic example of the incestuous and symbiotic relationship between public employee unions and the governments that oversee them than the situation described in the Chicago Tribune's lead story today. Because of the secretive and cloaked process surrounding Illinois state politics, it may not be possible to determine exactly how a few lines of state law were altered in 1991 to benefit public employee union leaders, but the effect today is monstrous: 23 retired union leaders stand to collect more than $56 million from Illinois' overstressed public employee pension fund. In fact, the pensions they are receiving far outstrip the average public employee pension by a factor of 3 to 1. The trade-off, of course, is guaranteed employment in the form of votes for the politicians that orchestrated this stealth wealth transfer.
The more exposure these types of connections receive, such as the ripoff of Wisconsin taxpayers by the state teachers union benefit plan currently being revealed by the contentious revision in WI state law, the better. Local governments' budget woes are quickly making these bloated union financial payouts an unaffordable luxury.
PS-anybody catch the repeated negative references to public employee union strikes, and their effect, in the movie Contagion? Highly unusual for the normally liberal Hollywood worldview, I thought.
UPDATE: The payoff situation is even worse than originally reported--it seems Chicago management brought back a favored union leader for one day of work in 1994, then phonied up an indefinite leave status, so that he could reap his almost $160,000 retirement pension.