August 4, 2014
By Neal Tepel
Washington, DC – The Amalgamated Transit Union has purchased the 46-acre campus of the National Labor College in Silver Spring, Maryland for $31.4 million. ATU plans to move its headquarters there from Washington, D.C. The AFL-CIO affiliated college had financial difficulties and discontinued operations in May. The college celebrated its 16th and last annual commencement on Saturday April 26, 2014. ATU has almost 200,000 members across the U.S. and Canada.
“We want to train labor workers from all over,” said ATU President Larry Hanley. “Our initial focus will be on our members, but we plan to make the facilities open to other unions and progressive groups.” While ATU will not confer degrees as the labor college did, we'll focus on training labor leaders and workers in community organizing and other critical labor skills on the campus. The labor college has been the “preeminent training facility for organized labor” over the past four decades, and ATU plans to expand on the college’s legacy, Hanley continued.
In 1969 AFL-CIO President George Meany founded a labor studies center to promote education and training opportunities for union leaders, their members, and families. In 1971 the AFL-CIO purchased the 46-acre Silver Spring property that became the National Labor College. NLC became a degree-granting college in 1997 and gained accreditation from Middle States Commission on Higher Education in 2004. In 2013 NLC announced its intention to close the school and sell the property. Paula Peinovich, president of the labor college, said officials on their board were very pleased that the new owner was a labor organization.