Skico doesn’t get it
Dear Editor:At least billionaires James and Paula Crown’s Aspen Skiing Co. does not shoot protesters for a living wage – they just ban them from the National Forest. In 2011, is it American to ban a singer for singing his most requested song, “Big Money” (see Chicago Tribune), or a newspaper (the little one) for “environmental reasons” simply to stifle a message? (See Curtis Wackerle’s article, Aspen Daily News, Feb. 3, 2011) The Crowns have extremely talented and highly educated people working for them, but Skico’s abuse of power and arrogance makes for not the best listening skills. During my 15-year tenure at Skico, management evolved into a “let them eat cake/you’re lucky to have this job/you’d better kiss our bottom” basis. Skico fosters an environment of fear. Recall my “Dear Paula Crown” letter: Her lawyers told Berenbaum & Weinsheink representing me that she will not drop the ban for charity and to not write any more letters. Ooops. Does Paula really care whether some peon goes to Greenaliscious at her fabulous five-star hotel? No. But the Crowns want to send the message: If you speak out, we’ll ban you and you’re not going to ski. And, everyone loves to ski!When one of Skico’s minor executives stated that Skico was “tweaking” their employee handbook concerning freedom of speech and the restructuring of the Ski School claiming that the violations of federal labor law were simply just “good management,” I was concerned after I fell over laughing. Has Skico learned anything? The vice president stated, “We didn’t do anything illegal, we’re just not meeting the technical letter of the law.” How exactly does that spin work? Skico’s least-paid instructors earn $69 for a full-day lesson that the Crowns charge the guest $625. More importantly, Skico pays $9.25 and $10 an hour in one of the most expensive places in America to retail and lift employees respectively. Will that quietly change because the Crowns have deducted millions off their taxes to the United Way’s Tocqueville Society, which actively “works to promote a living wage?”I would not treasure the idea of being called out every Christmas and Ideas Festival by People4aliving wage flyers. A friend who works for Skico was written up for farting. He framed it. When management called him into a meeting, Skico chastised him for laughing. Seriously, any company that tries to bully employees to the extent Skico does needs a union.Regardless, in the future, Skico will tread more lightly on employees’ protected rights. In the federal settlement, Skico is required to advise employees that “federal law gives you the right to act together with other employees.” The chapter involving management’s ridiculous domination has come to a close. Little guys everywhere should rejoice that Skico’s winter of discontent has evolved into their own Arab Spring: A union petition is circulating amongst employees. Skico being Skico, one of the leaders was disciplined in retaliation and the results of the federal investigation have yet to be disclosed. Lee MulcahyAspen
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