The lift maintenance department at Vail Resorts-owned Park City Mountain could be the first in the United States to unionize under a plan announced today. A group of mechanics and electricians filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to form the Park City Lift Maintenance Professional Union, which would be would be part of the Communications Workers of America 7781 – the United Professional Ski Patrols of America. A press release states the petition was submitted with 80 percent support.
In March, Vail Resorts raised its minimum wage for US maintenance technicians to $21 per hour however the union says there are issues beyond just compensation. “The members of the mechanics team face dangerous work conditions, chronic understaffing, and low pay that is not commensurate with the precarity of their work or cost of living,” said the CWA. “These issues contribute to constant employee turnover, which makes it impossible to cultivate a crew of experienced mechanics, and their work often goes unappreciated despite being essential to the resort’s functioning. The workers have decided that self-advocacy as a unionized crew will combat these issues, and create a safe and equitable working environment for all.”
CWA 7781 currently represents some 650 ski patrollers in the Mountain West and Pacific Northwest, most recently adding Purgatory Resort bike patrollers to its ranks. The CWA also represents patrol staff at Vail Resorts properties including Breckenridge, Crested Butte and Stevens Pass.
“The prosperity, happiness, and safety of the mechanics and electricians in Lift Maintenance has been a discussion for years,” said Liesl Jenkins, a lift mechanic at Park City Mountain Resort. “Having a voice and the opportunity to negotiate with our employer is paramount to the retention of mechanics and electricians, as well as experience, in our department.”
The petition starts multi-step process between the National Labor Relations Board, the union and employer before a possible formal union vote.
Update: Park City Mountain Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Deirdra Walsh provided the following statement regarding the unionization effort:
“We’re committed to constant improvement of our employee experience, which includes our significant investment in employee wages and affordable housing for this season, among other steps. We’re proud of our efforts so far but know this work is ongoing. I’ve always believed in an open-door policy and encourage employees to communicate directly with me and our leadership team. My number one priority is working together with employees to hear and address their concerns. We believe a direct relationship with our team works best rather than through a third party, but we respect the decision of our teammates to choose.”Park City Mountain Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Deirdra Walsh
That’s awesome. Usually I’m about as anti-union as they come, but Fail Resorts could definitely benefit from one. I did so much unsafe stuff working there, and it was encouraged, if not mandatory.
I don’t know where or when you worked for Vail, but the one thing they brought to WB was safety. Like stuff it down your throat and hit you over the head with a hammer safety. It never stops. It doesn’t matter how much you get done, as long as everyone goes home in the same condition they arrived. Our injuries are down 50 % last year. You my accuse Vail of a lot of things, but lack of safety culture isn’t one of them. We are massively better than at any time during the varoius iterations of WB.
I’ve noticed the same talking with the guys over the pass.
It’s too bad it came to this, but it’s a good thing it’s happening.
The lift maintenance & lift electricians have been under paid at most ski areas for years. Total joke lift mechanics making $20 to $25 per hour and lift operators starting at $20??
In California the minimum wage will be $15.50 per hour starting in 2023.
In California if a mechanic is required to have their own tools they are required to be paid twice minimum wage = $31 per hour. Which seems like a reasonable place to start.
They should be making 30/hr. Think about it what they”re doing.
Worked for a small family owned meatpacking company for 32 years they were union they provided me and my family with health insurance and steady work I enjoyed my experience with them and the many benefits of the days employed thankful for the years.Also worked for Wilmot mountain in southern Wisconsin for many years enjoying the many people and benefits the resort gave to me employment and of course many times of pure pleasure of playing in Snow thank you to all that make it happen….
They should think this Union thing over twice. I was at Sun Valley in 1975 when there the 2 unions went on strike right before Christmas, All the bragging about lift safety, when in fact we found toggle switches hidden to bypass low safety circuit. Good management of a resort is key for success and work condition, not union bosses.