With a huge lead in the polls (his nearest competitor trails by 16 points), Rahm Emanuel is apparently confident enough about winning election as Chicago’s next mayor that he privately met in December with union bosses to tell them he plans to cut the pensions of all Chicago city workers.
Moreover, it appears union bosses either didn’t want their members to find out about Rahm’s plans, or they don’t want their members to find out cuts are likely to happen anyway, regardless of who wins.According to the Chicago News Cooperative:
In contrast to his main rivals in the mayor’s race, Rahm Emanuel has told labor leaders that he favors reducing pension benefits for the city’s existing work force and not just for new hires.
Although Mr. Emanuel has not yet publicly detailed his plan to confront the city’s perennial budget deficits and the severely underfinanced employee pension funds, he told union officials in a private meeting on Dec. 15 that he thought it could be necessary to cut the pensions of all employees, said people who attended the meeting.
Mr. Emanuel made the comments while he was being interviewed by leaders of the Chicago Federation of Labor. That umbrella group for 300 unions has not yet endorsed any of the candidates who will be running in the Feb. 22 election to succeed Mayor Richard M. Daley, who is retiring.
“The sticking issue for all of us is the pension issue,” said a labor activist who attended the meeting with Mr. Emanuel. “I can’t tell my members we are going to support a guy who is going to cut your pensions.” [Emphasis added.]
Though it’s unknown whether any of the union bosses received a dead fish, union bosses seem more afraid of Rahm Emanuel than of their own members.
The labor leader and others who attended the meeting said they did not want to be identified for fear that Mr. Emanuel would retaliate if he were elected.
The problem is, with Chicago’s pension being the second worst city pension in the country (only four years behind Philadelphia’s insolvency in 2015), the fund will run dry in 2019, according to one study. More importantly, with a staggering $44.8 billion debt (or $41,966 per Chicago household), whether it is Rahm Emanuel or one of his competitors, a failure to address the problem will lead to larger issues down the road.
[For list of the top 10 cities that will run out of money, and when, go here.]
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776