Park City ski patrollers authorize strike if talks fail with Vail Resorts
Union says it remains optimistic an agreement can be reached
The membership of the union that represents ski patrollers at Park City Mountain Resort overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike should negotiations with Vail Resorts, the Colorado-based owner of the resort, collapse.
The Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association said on Monday 98.2% of the votes were in support of the strike authorization. According to the union, 168 out of the 171 people who voted backed the authorization. There are 185 ski patrollers eligible for union membership, meaning the vast majority cast a vote.
Patrick Murphy, a Canyons Village-based ski patroller and the business manager for the union, said the 48-hour online vote closed Sunday night.
A bargaining session with Vail Resorts is scheduled Monday evening. It will be the 50th between the sides, according to the union. Murphy said he “optimistic” an agreement can be reached during the Monday evening session.
The authorization vote was needed prior to a strike by the union members. Murphy said the authorization, though, is not a signal of an imminent strike, and he acknowledged the union understands the broad impact a work stoppage would potentially have on the community. He said the union is “doing everything we can” to reach an agreement to avoid a strike.
The key point in the talks is the current starting wage of $15 per hour. The union argues the wage is too low for ski patrollers, who are trained for specialized duties like treating victims of accidents on the slopes, evacuating lifts and avalanche control.
The Vail Resorts side says it has offered a proposal to the union that is competitive with other mountain resorts, including wage increases, future increases that would be automatic and retroactive pay to cover hours that have been worked during the current ski season.
The union in the middle of December rejected a proposal from Vail Resorts. The union has raised more than $75,000 through a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe to cover patrollers in the event of a strike.
The most recent contract negotiated by the union ended in November 2020. It was a two-year deal between the union and Vail Resorts.
Vail Resorts on Monday afternoon after the union vote issued a brief statement: “We continue to have productive conversations with the union and have another collective bargaining session scheduled for Monday (this) evening.”
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