Thursday, January 14, 2010

Things so tough the UAW is selling its retreat

The United Auto Workers is hoping to sell its $33 million lakeside retreat in northern Michigan, long a symbol of the union's success but now a financial liability.

The UAW cited the recession and shrinking membership as reasons it is seeking a buyer for the Walter and May Reuther Family Education Center, located on 1,000 heavily forested acres near Onaway. The union bought the property in 1967.

The center, named for the union's iconic leader, was a jewel in which many UAW members took great pride. It is expected to go on the market yet this month.

The property includes the top-notch Black Lake Golf Club and the ashes of Reuther and his wife, who died along with four others when their small plane crashed en route to the property in 1970.

The center recently became a target of critics who grumbled that the UAW shouldn't keep such a luxury while hundreds of thousands of its members have lost their jobs or taken buyouts or early retirement as the domestic auto industry restructured.

The facility lost an estimated $23 million in the past five years and the UAW was forced to borrow to keep it afloat, according to filings with the U.S. Labor Department.

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