- The Washington Times - Friday, January 21, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Under the administration of President Obama and the former Democratic majority in both houses of Congress, it was fashionable to engage in class warfare and attack anything viewed as corporate excess.

But those on the political left have once again proved their hypocrisy by ignoring the irony in the United Auto Workers (UAW) owning a lavish $33 million resort in Michigan’s Cheboygan County.

This resort, which includes a championship golf course, is situated on 1,000 acres at Black Lake in the heart of cottage country.

Yet despite a pristine location and first-class amenities, the UAW’s resort has lost more than $23 million in recent years.

Instead of selling the resort or even opening it up to non-union members, union leaders have kept it for themselves while at the same time claiming that forced unionization of auto workers in other states is necessary to keep their club alive.

To offset the massive financial losses, the UAW has launched appeals of the resort’s property tax assessments nearly every year. This has forced local government to spend thousands of dollars it doesn’t have on defending tax assessments, which largely fund the education of local children.

The idea that the UAW on one day leads the chorus of raising taxes on families and businesses - disguised as forcing them to “pay their fair share” - and the next day maneuvers the system with the goal of undercutting the resort’s tax burden is the definition of hypocrisy.

My constituents, most of whom are families and retirees, don’t like paying taxes, but the vast majority do without hiring a horde of attorneys aimed at crippling local government’s resources.

The UAW’s repeated tax appeals have cheated children out of a quality education, which, for many of them - more than 17 percent live in poverty - is their only chance at bettering themselves and ensuring a brighter future.

This isn’t a pro-union or anti-union issue.

My late grandfather was a local union president. I come from a traditional union state, and I understand the sentiment behind UAW President Bob King’s comments that he is committed to “creating the UAW of the ‘40s and ‘50s and ‘60s.”

But those days are over.

The UAW is dwindling in membership, and it clearly cannot justify owning a $33 million resort at a time when its own members are struggling to make ends meet and overcome the challenges of a diverse 21st-century economy.

If Mr. King and other UAW leaders won’t do the right thing, congressional leaders must hold the union accountable in the same way Democrats held the Big Three and other business executives to account over the past two years.

Dennis Lennox, a Republican, is the elected drain commissioner of Michigan’s Cheboygan County.

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