6 Million Dollar UAW golf course.
The United Auto Workers may be out of
the hole now that President Bush has approved a $17 billion bailout of
the U.S. auto industry, but the union isn’t out of the bunker just yet.
as the industry struggles with massive losses, the UAW brass continue
to own and operate a $33 million lakeside retreat in Michigan, complete
with a $6.4 million designer golf course. And it’s costing them
millions each year.
But the Black Lake club and retreat, which are
among the union’s biggest fixed assets, have lost $23 million in the
past five years alone, a heavy albatross around the union’s neck as it
tries to manage a multibillion-dollar pension plan crisis.
Critics call it a resort for union leaders that wastes money from union dues.
"It’s their members’ money that they’re
spending on this thing," said Justin Wilson, managing director of the
Center for Union Facts, a union watchdog group. "The union has bigger
issues at hand than managing a golf course."
the course may become a burden for the union. The UAW covers costs for
the Reuther Center from the interest it earns on its strike fund,
according to tax documents, but massive losses in the past five years
have forced the union to make heavy loans to keep the center afloat.
Critics call it a poor investment for a group with over $1.25 billion
"Unions certainly have had real
estate investments in the past, but investments are supposed to make
money, not bleed money," said Wilson.
The UAW did not return calls from FOXNews.com, and a spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Reuther Center is open 11 months of the year to offer courses on
leadership, political action, civil rights and other topics; it hosts
nearly 10,000 visitors annually. The UAW says it sends workers there to
"learn, experience unionism (and) commit to labor’s cause," according
to their Web site.
The center was purchased in
1967 and underwent massive renovations in the ’90s under the careful
watch of former UAW president Steve Yokich. "Today’s Black Lake might
not exist if not for Steve Yokich," said union member Bob Reidt, whom
Yokich appointed as Black Lake’s director. "Yokich is responsible for
rebuilding Black Lake."
The UAW erected a
monument to its longtime president Walter Reuther — the center’s
namesake — which bears an inscription of his words: "There is no
greater calling than to serve your brother. There is no greater
satisfaction than to have done it well."
Reuther, who died in a plane crash en route to the center in 1970,
never knew the satisfaction of Black Lake’s "well-groomed fairways," a
course that Michigan Golf Magazine called a "stunning visual marvel."
members can play golf at discounted rates on one of the country’s top
100 courses, designed in 2000 by famed course architect Rees Jones at a
cost of $6 million.
The center has a storied
history. Reuther had his ashes scattered at the site, and Lucille Ball
and Desi Arnaz honeymooned there in 1940, well before it was bought by
"It’s funny that they call it an
education center — it’s a resort," said Wilson. "If I was a union
member, I would prefer that they rented out a room at the Ramada Inn."
UAW Leaders at Work-Ford Motor Co.
Maybe they are headed out to golf?