Skico workers get their just desserts |

Skico workers get their just desserts

The Aspen Skiing Co. is dishing out about 50 meals each night to seasonal employees who haven’t gone to work yet because of winter’s late arrival.

The Skico has contracted with Bumps restaurant at the base of Buttermilk since Nov. 22 to serve the dinners. The Skico has taken that step whenever necessary in recent seasons to ease financial burdens on new arrivals and help them hang on until paychecks start arriving.

Last year about 1,250 dinners were provided over 18 nights to the Skico’s unemployed workers.

“We just feel it’s the right thing to do,” said Jim Laing, Skico vice president of human resources. “The response has been very positive. But with people not working, it’s hard to get the word out to everyone.”

While any employee who isn’t working a full schedule – from new arrivals to longtime-local veterans – is eligible for the free dinners, the target audience is the season worker “who’s just come to town and who’s stretching it,” said Laing.

He said it’s next to impossible to determine how many company workers are underemployed or unemployed right now. There is no “typical” number of people employed at this point in the season because it varies every year.

Aspen Mountain and Snowmass are opening terrain as conditions permit, adding employees all the while. Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk typically don’t open until mid-December.

At full operation during peak season, the Skico employs about 3,400 workers at all four ski areas, Laing said.

The free dinners are an expense that Skico President and CEO Pat O’Donnell has endorsed for as long as necessary, according to Laing. They agree it’s “the best investment” the company can make, Laing said.

Part of the Skico’s intent is to keep workers available and build relationships with them.

“I know last year it was definitely a success in that regard,” said Laing.

The Skico is also considering steps such as deferring rents for employees who live in company housing and providing pay advances to other employees caught in a financial bind. No decisions have been made yet on those steps.

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