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Union leader draws lucrative pension perk based on false information

By Jason Grotto, Tribune reporter

10:09 p.m. CDT, September 1, 2011
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.

Union leader draws lucrative pension perk based on false information