A call to action | AspenTimes.com

A call to action

Dear Editor:

In 1997 I met a girl from South America. I asked her to visit Snowmass, and in August she flew from Brazil to stay for a month. Around November it became evident that she would stick around so I started figuring a way to make her legal. I learned that the Aspen Skiing Co. had a new visa program and all we had to do was leave the U.S. to obtain one, so we flew to Canada and brought one home.

At that time there were only 15 of these H2B visas available to the Skico, and most went to girls working in the children’s program. The pay was somewhere around $9 per hour, which was around the minimum wage for workers in the Roaring Fork Valley. Today the Skico uses these visas generously to staff all sorts of positions in its company. The pay for girls in the children’s program today is $10.50, which by anyone’s standard is below the poverty line for a job in this valley.

Had the Skico never been allowed to use the visa program it would’ve had to increase wages at least in keeping with the rate of inflation. At 3 percent per year the wage for the kid’s program would’ve surpassed $10.50 per hour eight years ago and it still would be the equivalent of minimum wage for this valley. Had that 3 percent been added in to this day the base pay would be $13.17 per hour. Still a puny wage, but better than the Skico’s actual pay.

In 1997 the price of a lift ticket was $59. The Skico reports over a million skier days per year. You can easily do the math and figure how much per year the Skico’s profits have increased while keeping its wages stagnant by using foreign labor. Has the cost of running the mountain increased by $40 million per year in these last 13 years? Not if labor is the standard the costs are measured by.

The 3rd District of Colorado has recently elected a new congressman. Scott Tipton was sworn in just last week with the promise to bring jobs to Colorado. I have news for him: The jobs are here, it’s just that a Coloradan would go broke working them for such horrible pay. Because the Skico is the largest employer in the valley it sets the standard for wages. All workers lose because the Skico can staff with cheap labor from foreign countries. We the citizens have the power to change that.

Tell Scott Tipton what you think of the H2B visa program. His phone number is (970) 241-2499. I’ve already made his office aware of this call to arms so call him now while it’s fresh in your mind. This is your chance to make a difference for the working people of the entire valley.

By the way, that girl never left the valley. She is now Mrs. Boyd thanks to the Skico’s visa program.

Johnny Boyd

Snowmass Village

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