Lee Mulcahy
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

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February 1, 2011
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Lee Mulcahy: Goliath defeats David

Well, at least Aspen Skiing Co. doesn't shoot protesters like they do in Egypt. But firing? Arrogance and abuse of power does not usually lead to excellent listening skills.

Fear is a company value. It suits their purpose in more ways than one. Do you think anyone will speak up now? Otherwise, it will be "work related misconduct." Please. Like the firing of Dan Sheridan was a miscommunication from Paul Cherette. Like the Aspen Daily News was banned for "environmental reasons." More of the same.

Was the attention on the Crowns' hypocrisy for not paying a living wage from the Chicago press a bit too glaring? When the message is indefensible, attach the messenger. Who suspends and then fires an employee protesting the low wages of beginner instructors?

When you speak truth to power, is this the result in Aspen? The mayor called them and told them an employee's suspension serves no one. Four of the five City Council members felt that Skico's ridiculousness was pointless. Dwayne told me before I left for Berlin to e-mail Kaplan for coffee. He never responded.

The fact that Skico said that it is not about our freedom of speech means ... what? Why would you even need to say that unless it is about freedom of speech.

I love teaching skiing. I'm really good at it. For Skico to claim otherwise, when I am one of their most requested instructors, is right in line with big money crushing the little guys. David vs. Goliath. I'm no slouch - I attended two of the oldest universities in the world, the Sorbonne and the Universidad de Salamanca in Spain and hold a Ph.D. in 19th French art from the University of Texas at Arlington. For heaven's sake, I'm an Eagle Scout.

Poor performance? Really? Skico's ridiculousness stands on its own: The firing of a singer for singing his most popular song, "Big Money"; the censorship of a paper they hate from their hotels (the little paper) for "environmental reasons"; the banning of employees from the Snowmass Club after they had worked their and enjoyed privileges for over ten years, and not the least, their hypocrisy in not paying a living wage.

It's as simple as the Snowmass Sun stated: It's cheaper for the Crowns to take a million-dollar tax deduction from the United Way, which works to promote a living wage, rather than actually paying one to their employees reeks of greed. On Jan. 27, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., weighed in on America today: "The erosion of American democracy has forced people who care about our country, and who care about civic health, into this box of civil disobedience and local action."

I stand by everything I did. Just last week, Skico allowed a political petition to circulate around the Snowmass locker room concerning Bentley's. Was anyone fired? Ask any labor attorney, Skico would love to distinguish between the Little Nell and the locker room, but both are company property. If you allow flyers in the locker room, then you don't get to put your five-star hotel off limits. Freedom of expression sucks for petty tyrants.

It's cheaper for the Crowns to fight the United States government's National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB has a budget. $4.1 billion means without any extra income, you can spend $10 million for the next 400 years. A little lawsuit with the U.S. government over some union organizer ... cheaper than having to raise wages.

The problem for Skico? I'm lucky.

We are lucky to have elected officials who stand up for the little guy and Pitkin County has some of the best employee housing in the world. I am building a house on a lot given to me by the efforts of those before me.

When I wrote a letter critical of the company last summer, I received threatening e-mails about my letter from Mike Kaplan designed to shut me up. As an aside, the feds feel Skico's "conflict of interest" policy is a violation of protected free speech.

Later, When I asked my fellow Diamond Instructors in August if they wanted to go to bat for the least paid and their thoughts on unionization, Skico retaliated by kicking me out the Diamond Group 11 days later. In August! When there's no skiing ... the Diamonds are like an elite sorority, the Tri Deltas of the skiing world. I was asked to be in it initially four years ago but now you get voted in and it definitely helps if you are a cheerleader for management.

I am the luckiest guy in the world to have the parents I have: When I told my dad back in August, he said "Son, this is not a fight you are likely to win, but I understand if you need to do it."


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The Aspen Times Updated Feb 1, 2011 10:03AM Published Feb 1, 2011 02:51AM Copyright 2011 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.