By on September 7, 2008

“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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18 Comments on “UAW Pisses Away $23m on Golf Course, Retreat...”

  • avatar

    Good Morning Robert,

    I have been reading your site for about a year now. I still cannot get a read on your goal for this site. At this point I can see you dislike the Detroit management teams of the American car manufacturers for many just reasons. You have fair test drive opinions. You have very cool photochop pics. But, I have not found a clear motive for this site. Could you let me in on your thinking?

  • avatar

    What is the motive of a newspaper? There should be none other than to report facts with as little bias to the data as possible.

    TTAC clearly isn’t purely news, more like the Op-Ed section of a newspaper. The editorial direction set by Mr. Farago aims to provide an alternative to the many other publications (print and web) that provide excuses for information about the American automotive industry.

    I believe that many of his readers wish they could support the American automotive industry. I wish I could. There are very few cars made by US manufacturers that I would be willing to risk my hard earned money on. But I keep looking.
    The last three cars I have bought have been produced in the U.S. by German manufacturers, so Deutschland gets the profits, but some locals get a paycheck.

    I believe the direction of the site is to be Detroit’s Cassandra Loyal Opposition

  • avatar

    The UAW with a little side business- that brings up a quandary: should the employees of a union be unionized? And if so, can you pay high wages for low skill work and not lose money?

  • avatar

    So the UAW runs their business as poorly as the big 2.8 run theirs

  • avatar

    I still cannot get a read on your goal for this site.

    To me it’s obvious just from the name of the site.
    The Truth about Cars is not just about the cars themselves but about all the people, manufacturers, stakeholders, legislation, unions and everything else that goes into the car biz. Even those things that the aformentioned would rather you knew little or nothing about. Takes courage but this site has the stones.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    TTAC provides factual information consumers need to avoid wasting money on a bad car purchase. Newspapers, magazines, TV programs and Internet sites long ago sold their integrity to automakers for advertising dollars, junkets to exotic 5-star resorts, and expensive gifts.

  • avatar

    I’ve been to this place on non-auto related matters.

    It is like a commune in the north woods. The rank-and-file members aren’t allowed to have cars.

    In a masterpiece of irony they are bused to off-site activities.

    Also, no ‘foreign’ cars are allowed on site.

    Thankfully for me the glass in a Eagle Talon was emblazoned with multiple Pentastars. That placated the guards before they decided to lift the hood and see all the ‘Nippon Denso’ labels in the engine bay.


  • avatar


    The goal of this site is to tell the truth about cars.

    We cover any and all auto-related stories, without fear or favor. If it involves cars, it’s in.

    If you wish to submit your own take on any automotive-related product, personality or issue, you, like anyone else, are welcome to do so.

  • avatar
    Sid Vicious

    Is this different from the Black Lake resort also in N. Michigan? (The site of numerous boondoggles where the elected officials go to screw off and waste members dues and I suppose some of the D3’s money.)

    The UAW also lost their ass on a bunch of radio and TV stations they had bought to help their organizing cause. It’s obvious they are not businessmen but simple parasites. We could talk about how terribly they’d manage the VEBA – but the domestics will never have the money to make good on their promises.

    Forray – This resort is just another hidden cost of a domestically produced vehicle. A cost that you will not find in most Japanese, German or Korean badged vehicles. To me, as a car buyer, that makes it relevant.

  • avatar

    Seems like small change compared to CEO pay.

  • avatar

    What??? You mean the UAW misallocated money they should have spent on its general membership and spent it on their leaders golf course that has become a money sink hole??

    I’m shocked… SHOCKED I say.

  • avatar

    If they can manage to lose that much money on a golf course imagine what will happen when they can dip their fingers into their VEBAs.

  • avatar

    OK, naive me, I thought the purpose of a union was collective bargaining with management regarding wages, benefits etc., and now I find out that I was wrong this whole time. They’re in the resort business!! Seems to me that much money could pay for a lot of health care for employees and retirees. Thanks for reporting on this–those of us in other areas of the country than the upper Midwest don’t always get to see these stories.

  • avatar

    I usually ride my bicycle to work (or take the bus) and own a 99 Ford Escort (great car!) and an 87 Mitsubishi pickup ($225 in unscheduled maintenance in 16+ years – go Sons of Nippon!). Although I fail the Hoon demographic, I read damn near everything on TTAC damn near everyday.

    This is one of the best sites on the web for informed economic, political, and social commentary. It also has some of the most consistent and elevated writing anywhere on the net. Most blogs are full of trolls and illegible gibberish – TTAC is a constant well of good information, good sense, and good humor.

    If you assume cars are a metaphor for a whole lot in American life, this is a literary and philosophical site more than a car buff site.

    Change nothing & God bless RF.

  • avatar

    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)

  • avatar

    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…!”

  • avatar


    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.

  • avatar

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

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