In a post titled “Illinois Is Broke Peddles Broken Rhetoric,” about the Commercial Club of Chicago’s efforts to reduce pensions for public employees, I asked what I thought was a rhetorical question: “I’d like to know the size of Commercial Club members’ pensions.”
Well, it turns out someone has an answer. Not surprisingly, it’s the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union whose members would have their retirement benefits cut under a proposal drafted by the club’s Civic Committee. The Commercial Club’s ads claim that state employees are getting a “sweet deal,” better than 95 percent of workers in private industry. As it turns out, Commercial Club members are not in that 95 percent. They’re getting their own sweet deals.
Chairman of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club: Abbott Laboratories CEO Miles D. White. When he retires, he will draw on not one but two defined-benefit pensions worth a combined $20 million. All this for a guy whose company’s stock fell 11% last year, and who announced the layoff of 1,900 employees in January (1,000 of them in Lake County)—a cut that followed 3,000 layoffs last September. Never fear, however; Miles White believes in shared sacrifice: His total compensation declined 8 percent last year—to $20.2 million.
Selected other members of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club:
W. James Farrell, retired CEO of Illinois Tool Works whose annual pension is $1.4 million.
John W. Madigan, retired CEO of the Tribune Company whose annual pension is more than $220,000.
Richard L. Thomas, a retired bank executive whose annual pension is more than $600,000.
R. Eden Martin rakes in more than $330,000 in compensation from two companies where he sits on the board—and that's on top of the retirement benefits he takes from the law firm, Sidley Austin, where he once worked. (Oddly enough for such a self-proclaimed champion of accountability and transparency, the firm's retirement benefit information is not publicly available.)
If you own stock in any of these companies, you might want to contact the board of directors and complain that the size of these pensions is hurting your shareholder value.
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