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. But with one exception: unionized ski patrollers.
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, 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.
- Related: Should We Pay Ski Patrollers More?
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. An email from Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz, 28,000 Vail Resorts employees will receive the bonus. The largest being $1,500, and extending down to employees who worked at least 40 hours this season, who could stand to earn at least $100.