Ski instructor files labor complaint against Aspen Skiing Co |

Ski instructor files labor complaint against Aspen Skiing Co

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times

For the third time in five years, an Aspen Skiing Co. worker has filed a complaint about employment practices with the National Labor Relations Board.

The latest case was opened July 2, according to the labor board’s website. The worker is listed only as an “individual.” The labor board’s policy is to not identify a charging party in public.

“The charge has been made, it’s being investigated, no determination has been made,” said Kelly Selvidge, acting director of the National Labor Relations Board Denver Region office.

The two allegations in the case are listed as “concerted activities (retaliation, discharge, discipline)” and “coercive rules.”

Selvidge said she couldn’t determine what department the employee works in based on the information in the case thus far. It’s early in the investigation, she said. No information was available on the alleged actions that led to the allegations being filed.

Skico was notified July 2 that a charge had been filed. Skico filed a response, according to spokesman Jeff Hanle. He said the employee was a ski pro in the ski school.

“We deny the allegations in the complaint and are waiting to hear back now,” Hanle said.

In 2010 and 2011, cases were opened against Skico after allegations were made by a former ski instructor and, in a separate case, a current ski instructor.

Former instructor Lee Mulcahy filed his allegations as part of a protracted legal battle with the company.

Mulcahy filed two charges with the National Labor Relations Board against Skico in October 2010. He alleged the company took retaliatory action against him for voicing his concerns about pay for beginning instructors and for approaching other instructors about a union. In his second allegation, he claimed the ski school management structure was potentially unlawful and designed to prevent establishing union representation.

Skico altered the way it collected employee input at the ski school as a result of the investigation of Mulcahy’s complaint. Skico established committees that included management representatives in 1993 to discuss benefits, training, safety and risk awareness in the ski school. The board determined management and employees shouldn’t work on the committees together.

The board determined there was insufficient evidence to conclude Mulcahy was fired for undertaking a protected activity. He claimed he was fired for passing out material on Skico property that was critical of Skico’s wage scale.

Longtime ski instructor James Cohen filed related complaints about Skico to the National Labor Relations Board in 2011 and 2012. The board negotiated settlements in both cases. In both cases, Cohen said Skico was unlawfully prohibiting him from talking to other employees about wages, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment. Skico had to rescind its limits.

Skico had to eliminate rules from its handbook as part of the later complaint. Cohen had claimed the handbook had overbroad rules such as one prohibiting “detrimental conduct” toward the company.