Park City Mountain mechanics and electricians vote to unionize
Park City Mountain mechanics and electricians voted 35-6 this week to unionize, becoming what is believed to be the first unionized ski resort mechanics in the country.
The election was conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, with voting taking place Monday and Tuesday.
Park City Mountain lift mechanic Liesl Jenkins said Tuesday that she does not know specifically what will change because the mechanics and electricians do not have a current contract.
“That is exactly why we unionized, is to be able to have a collective bargaining contract with Vail (Resorts),” she said.
Supporters of the effort to form the Park City Lift Maintenance Professional Union have said they want to address issues that include dangerous work conditions and low pay as a group. The union will be organized under the United Professional Ski Patrols of America, Local 7781 of the Communications Workers of America (CWA).
Deirdra Walsh, Park City Mountain vice president and chief operating officer, said the resort cares deeply about all of its employees and will do what’s right for its team members regardless of the outcome of the vote.
“While we are disappointed with the result, we are grateful to those who took the time to vote,” Walsh said in an email. “As we have shared both publicly and to our team throughout this process, we sincerely believe that direct communication works best to build strong relationships, ensure a safe working environment, and allow every employee’s voice to be heard through direct and open dialogue.”
Park City Mountain has demonstrated that by increasing wages and investing in affordable housing, mental health, leadership development and other perks and benefits this year, she said.
The mechanics and electricians submitted a petition in October to the NLRB to hold the election to determine if the union should be their bargaining representative. At least 30% of the potential bargaining unit must sign a petition to bring the issue to a vote and a majority vote decides the outcome.
Walsh said if the election results are certified by the NLRB, the resort will comply with all applicable labor and employment laws and bargain in good faith with the representative selected by lift maintenance mechanics and electricians.
“Either way, we are looking forward to a great season,” she said.
There are 17 electricians and mechanics on the Park City side of Park City Mountain and 24 on the Canyons side, according to Jenkins, who has previously said the “incredibly low” numbers of workers lead to long work days and burnout.
Jenkins said employees’ morale already is improving.
“It’s the first lift maintenance department in the country to unionize, which is something we’re incredibly proud of,” she said, adding that the effort had gotten support from workers at other resorts. “We’re excited to spread the love and see how this goes.”
There is no set deadline for negotiations to start but it could be soon, said Ryan Dineen, a local organizer with the CWA.
Ski patrollers at Breckenridge Ski Resort, a Vail property in Colorado, voted in late spring 2021 to unionize and were sitting down for their first negotiations in late June, he said.
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