Stevens Pass, WA Patrollers Going on Strike?

Cameron Griffin | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Entrance Sign, Stevens Pass, washington
At Stevens Pass, the Ski Patrol is fighting for better pay and benefits. With hopes of better retention for skilled patrollers. Photo courtesy of Adventure Journal

Are Stevens Pass patrollers going on strike? With COViD ruining last season by closing all resorts, it looks like it might happen again at Stevens Pass this year, where they have been practicing a picket line. Yet fortunately for the Stevens Pass skiers, they’ve yet to go on an actual strike. However, a strike could be coming soon.

ski patrol president
Brianna Hartzell has been bargaining in “good faith’ with Vail. Photo courtesy of Ryan Irvin.

Last spring, the ski patrol voted 27 to 18 in favor of unionization and voting for Brianna Hartzell as president. The Communications Workers of America represents the ski patrollers. Undoubtedly they haven’t gotten far with Vail. Particularly in the 21 months, they’ve yet to finalize a contract with Vail. Consequently, the pandemic put the negotiations on hiatus for 5-months during the pandemic. According to Outside Magazine, Vail has failed to show up for Zoom meetings despite the plentiful time to talk.

Brianna Hartzell is very clear about the struggles facing veteran ski patrollers.

“It takes several seasons to build expertise in these areas in a patrol team”

Along with her giving a real-life scenario.

“If you want someone who can splint a femur in the dark during a blood-moon eclipse while training a rookie on a 50-degree slope and backboarding the guest into a toboggan to be belayed and skied out, you’re going to need someone with more than two years of experience,”

Furthermore, the union says 23 out of 48 patrollers are in their first or second year. Obviously, putting resort goers in the care of inexperienced patrollers can be dangerous.

Yet Vail denied opportunities to respond in the press. The website wrote an extensive article about what patrollers have lost under Vail’s management. Like how programs that brought in skilled professionals, such as doctors and physical therapists, were ended. A drug policy was instituted, which made incidents less likely to be reported.

At this time, with neither Vail communicating nor the patrollers able to get the benefits asked for in negotiations, sadly, it looks like a stalemate for skiers. With hopes that a single move by could save the season for Stevens.

wide shot , Stevens Pass,
The Stevens Pass Base area. Photo courtesy of Stevens Pass

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