Home City park Is the Park City Ski Patrol on strike? Patrollers prepare for the 47th negotiation session

Is the Park City Ski Patrol on strike? Patrollers prepare for the 47th negotiation session


Both parties want to avoid a strike. But as the busiest time of the year for Utah’s ski areas draws to a close, Vail-owned Park City Mountain Resort has still failed to negotiate a contract with its Patroller Union of ski, which recently launched a GoFundMe campaign to cover wages if negotiations go wrong. .

On Monday, the Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association will enter its 47th bargaining session, the union’s latest attempt to consolidate a starting wage of $ 17 an hour. The resort currently offers patrollers a starting wage of $ 15 an hour – the starting wage for all Vail employees.

But unlike in previous sessions, the union is now touting a GoFundMe which, in four days, raised over $ 33,000. Patrick Murphy, the union’s trade manager and five-year ski patroller, describes it as “a rainy day fund, in case there’s a reason we’re not getting paychecks.”

Negotiations began in August 2020. But the dozens of negotiation sessions that followed were unsuccessful, and the patrollers entered the 2021/22 season with their old contract.

This means that the starting salary for a patroller in Park City is currently $ 13.25 an hour, despite the minimum wage of $ 15 an hour set for employees at all resorts in Vail.

Under the old contract, the patrollers get a salary increase of $ 14.50 per hour at the start of their second year, then $ 16 for the third year.

“Getting closer and closer to an agreement”

After 16 months, both sides say the negotiations have gone on longer than either one would like.

When asked why the process had taken so long, Mike Goar, COO of Park City Mountain Resort, replied that he had the same question.

He pointed to the ski patroller unions in Breckenridge, Colo. And Stevens Pass in Washington, both of which recently entered into what Goar says was a “nearly identical” contract to the one refused by the Park City patrollers.

“These were ratified relatively quickly, and almost unanimously,” Goar said.

Murphy’s response?

“Just because they locked themselves into that pay doesn’t mean it’s fair, appropriate and reasonable for our patrol or the ski patrollers in Utah in general,” he said.

So the union turned to GoFundMe if the worst-case scenario arose.

Murphy says they don’t want to use the funds – the union would much rather donate the money to local charities, or even another ski patroller union, and come to an agreement with the resort. But the influx of financial support is likely giving them leverage for Monday’s negotiations.

“People are frustrated with the number of trading sessions, but I think we’re getting a wave of support from the community and the industry as a whole, and we feel like we’re starting to get closer and closer. more than one deal, ”says Murphy.

Neither side had an interest in discussing the catastrophic impact of a shutdown, and both told Deseret News they were optimistic about the next negotiating session.

But if negotiations continue to fail and the union decides to strike, the mountain would stop. “Without a patrol, the mountain certainly couldn’t function,” Murphy said.

Work stoppages are rare in both Beehive State and the ski industry in the United States. It is unclear how Vail and Park City Mountain Resort would handle hotel reservations, ski lessons, equipment rentals and unforeseen loss of earnings in the event of a strike.

“That’s why we want to avoid this fate,” Murphy said. “We really want this mountain to continue. We love this community. We love the mountain and we try to do everything we can to keep it safe and open.

“A reasonable salary”

The union didn’t settle for $ 17 an hour “for nothing,” Murphy says.

“We looked at other resorts in Wasatch, and only in the great Mountain West. And that’s a reasonable salary and a fair salary for the skills of our patrol and the dangers we face on a daily basis, ”he told Deseret News.

In a photo provided by the Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association, members Tyler Grundstrom, Kate Foley, Lee Moriarty, Emmet Murray and Katie Woodward pose for a photo on Park City’s Main Street while advocating for higher wages.
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The union argues that with the required medical certifications, the responsibility that comes with the job and the risks they face, ski patrollers should have a higher base salary than other departments at the resort.

“We always believe we deserve more than the company’s minimum wage. We are not minimum wage employees. We don’t have minimum wage skills, ”Murphy said.

In addition to the pay hike, the Ski Patrollers Union wants the next contract to address wage cuts and include “incentives for our long-time employees to continue to accept and accept more leadership opportunities and education ”.

Goar told Deseret News that a misconception circulating in the public, often seen on social media, is that all patrollers will earn $ 15 an hour under the contract currently offered by the resort.

“Very few of them do that,” he said.

Instead, it would be a starting salary for an “inexperienced patroller”, he said, who will then have the opportunity to “increase his salary and training as he advances”. The potential growth as a ski patroller far exceeds what most departments at the resort offer, he said.

Still, Murphy says that in his five years with Park City, he’s seen the complex lose experienced patrollers who are put off by the pay.

“Some are looking to other opportunities in the ski patroller world, and some really good ski patrollers just don’t find ski patrollers a viable career path. They are therefore turning to other careers, ”he said.

Goar is a former patroller himself and began his career in Arizona before working for Solitude Resort in Utah’s Big Cottonwood Canyon. He says the experience gives him “a good understanding of what it takes to be on patrol and the skills and hard work that comes with ski patrolling.”

“We have an exceptional ski patrol in Park City, and we’re really proud of their expertise and the work they do,” he said.

Trade unions, strikes and the state of the hive

Labor disputes are rare in Utah, where a right to work law passed in 1969 protects workers from being required to join a union to hold a particular job.

These laws, passed in many other states, are touted as a way to protect individual liberty. But they are also divisive, and some experts say they undermine unions and an employee’s ability to organize, and can lead to worse working conditions.

A November analysis by Marketplace documented more than 300 strikes in the United States in 2021 – just one of them in Utah.

It was a non-union fall strike that involved eight employees of Redstone 8 theaters in Park City. The strike lasted two weeks and ended with a $ 2 hike for workers, raising wages to $ 12.50 an hour, below their target of $ 15 an hour.