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