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Union salaries boost pensions from city

September 14, 2009

Three men who once ran Laborers' International Union Local 1001 -- a union with a history of mob ties that represents Chicago garbage collectors -- are now getting city pensions based on the salaries they got from the union.

All three once worked for the city. All three moved on to work for the union. But even after leaving their city jobs, they remained in a city pension plan but got credit for their time with the union -- and, thanks to an obscure state law that allows all of this, were able to have their city pensions calculated based on their union salaries. In each case, the result was a higher pension.

The three:

• Bruno F. Caruso -- a reputed mobster forced to resign from the union's leadership in 2001 -- gets a city pension of $97,205 a year, based on his salary with Local 1001. Caruso is a nephew of the late Ald. Fred Roti (1st), who, according to FBI documents made public only after his death, allegedly was a "made member" of the Chicago Outfit. Caruso was superintendent of pavement repairs when he quit to go to work for the union. Caruso contributed a total of $217,036 toward his city pension. So far, he has collected more than $850,000 since retiring in 1998.

• Nicholas Gironda -- who's a cousin of Caruso's and ran the union after Caruso resigned -- has an annual city pension of $71,029, again based on his salary with the union. He was forced out of the union in 2004 amid an internal investigation by the union's parent organization. Gironda contributed $64,121 toward his pension. He has collected more than $600,000 since he retired in 1998.

• Sam DeChristopher -- another union leader who resigned along with Gironda -- has a yearly city pension of $71,856, also based on his union salary. He began collecting his city pension shortly before he was forced out of the union.