UAW Pisses Away $23m on Golf Course, Retreat

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
uaw pisses away 23m on golf course retreat

“Black Lake” is a United Auto Workers (UAW) owned retreat near Onaway. The Detroit Free Press‘ Tim Higgins describes the golfing part of the 1000 acre for-profit (in theory) center. “UAW members and retirees get a 20% and 30% discount, respectively, on greens fees, according to the course’s Web site. Golf with a cart on a summer weekend costs $85 for 18 holes. The course offers five tees on nearly every hole to reflect a golfer’s skill. The par 72 course can play from 5,058 yards to 7,030 yards.” Now that it’s been revealed that the entire facility has lost $23m of members’ money over the last five years– not including the $6m up-front cost for the golf course– union officials are busy talking-up the education side of the endeavor. “The UAW family education center is an integral part of our union. It provides very important training and education activities for our members,” UAW spinmesiter Roger Kerson told the Freep, who added that “he declined to talk about specific operation numbers or plans for the future.” You want irony? “UBE’s management of the education center has generated revenue of about $30 million over the past five years — and net losses of $20.5 million. The operations were hit hard last year by a $5.9-million payment to an employee pension fund. And from 2003 to 2007, revenue at the education center dropped by 18%.” [NB: Look for more stories of Detroit’s perk pork in the run-up to the federal bailout.]

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  • Shaker Shaker on Sep 08, 2008

    The USWA opened a similar resort called Linden Hall in the 1970's 40 miles south of Pittsburgh, PA. A few fellow Steelworkers (avid golfers) went there, and were "pleased" with the place (since their/our union dues paid for it). Less than 10 years later (1985-88), many of these workers were out of jobs, yet the USWA still survives, as they "diversified" their membership into "non basic steel" industries. Linden Hall still survives too. The 4000-employee steel mill that helped build it was closed, razed and today is a shopping complex. (Sour Grapes? Yeah, a bit)

  • ScottSowers ScottSowers on Sep 08, 2008

    Unless you're a country club with well-healed members and pricey dues, golf courses are pretty consistent money losers. Even here, in affluent Montgomery County, the higher priced joints are private, the ones that aren't, struggle and the cheap ones are run by the county. Not sure what the old UAW was thinking here other than "weeeeee...let's start a golf course, guys...!"

  • Netrun Netrun on Sep 08, 2008
    ScottSowers There was a time the UAW was thinking? Must have been a while ago. Haven't seen anyone from their leadership display such a talent.
  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Sep 08, 2008

    I bet the list of employees and vendor is just fascinating.