Vail Resorts to Pay $15-Million in Bonus Payouts to 28,000 Employees

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transporting a patient can save lives
Ski patrol prepares to transport a patient to receive emergency treatment. PC Hugh Johnson

To thank and reward their employees for working in an unprecedented working environment amid the global pandemic, Vail Resorts announced Thursday that they would be paying them year-end bonuses – totaling $15-million.

“I’m deeply grateful for the commitment our teams have demonstrated day in and day out to navigate a truly unusual season.”

– Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz

This will affect 28,000 year-round and seasonal workers who are not part of the company’s other annual bonus programs. Employees will receive between $100 and $1,500, depending on the number of hours worked this season.

The welcome announcement came on the back of Vail Resorts’ Q2 earnings call. Although sales were down 26% on last year, the company performed way better than expectations.

There was a sting in the tail, though, as unionized ski patrollers at Park City Mountain Resort, UT, Crested Butte, CO, and Stevens Pass, WA, were informed that they would not be in the round of bonuses as that would be illegal. Ski patrollers at these resorts are currently in contract negotiations with Vail Resorts and have been working since the start of the year without a contract. Patrollers are asking for wage increases, disability insurance for seasonal workers, waterproof uniforms, and regular sick leave and were practicing picket line action at the end of January.

“Union patrollers are not eligible for the bonus because we have an obligation to bargain with your union over your wages, hours, and working conditions. It would violate federal law if we unilaterally changed your compensation model.”

– an email obtained by the Park Record reads

Last spring, the ski patrol voted 27 to 18 in favor of unionization and voted for Brianna Hartzell as president, and in the last 21 months, they have 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. 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,”

23 out of 48 patrollers are in their first or second year.

In response to a Park Record inquiry, a Park City spokesperson said that the resort is exploring other options to pay patrollers an end-of-season bonus.

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