Unionized ski patrollers left out of end-of-season bonuses for PCMR employees

Move comes amid contract negotiations between union and resort

Park City Mountain Resort ski patrollers are not included in Vail Resorts’ plan to offer end-of-season bonuses to employees. The patrollers are locked in contract negotiations with the resort and have recently held small rallies in Park City.
Park Record file photo

Park City Mountain Resort owner Vail Resorts informed employees Thursday that they would be getting year-end bonuses, a measure of gratitude for working in unprecedented conditions during a deadly pandemic.

But one employee group isn’t included: unionized ski patrollers.

PCMR ski patrollers are engaged in contract negotiations with Vail Resorts and have been operating without a contract since early this year.

In an email to patrollers obtained by The Park Record, PCMR Chief Operating Officer Mike Goar — a former ski patroller himself — said that unionized patrollers weren’t included in the round of bonuses because that would have been illegal. It would amount to unilaterally altering the union’s collectively bargained compensation model, he said.

He added that the bonuses could be a subject for future contract negotiations.

“Union patrollers are not eligible for the bonus because we have an obligation to bargain with your union over your wages, hours, and working conditions. It would violate federal law if we unilaterally changed your compensation model,” the email states.

The email makes clear that patrollers have chosen to participate in a union, and that having contracts that are collectively bargained insulates members from financial changes within the company, good and bad.

Goar joined the contract negotiations just ahead of the busy Presidents Day weekend in February.

A PCMR spokesperson said in response to a Park Record inquiry that the company is exploring other options to get patrollers an end-of-season bonus.

The union has held two “educational rallies” in Park City where off-duty patrollers held signs and attempted to elicit community support for their contract demands, which include a pay increase and improved sick-time benefits.

The union accuses Vail Resorts of failing multiple times to heed its request to bring in federal mediators.

The previous two-year employment contract lapsed on Nov. 15. The union and Vail Resorts agreed to an indefinite extension while they negotiated a new contract, but the patrollers opted out of that extension.

The 200 employees covered by the contract, including patrollers and mountain safety personnel, have been operating without an agreement since Jan. 1.

They are still being paid and receiving benefits, but are no longer governed by the contract provision preventing a management-initiated lockout or a union-initiated strike.

At the union’s educational rallies, patrollers in recognizable patrolling gear have held signs saying, “Not on strike just practicing.”

According to a separate email obtained by The Park Record from Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz, the bonuses would go to more than 28,000 Vail Resorts employees who meet certain eligibility criteria — including full-time, part-time and seasonal employees. The largest bonuses, to be paid out in early May, are $1,500, and the range extends to employees who worked at least 40 hours this season and meet the other criteria, who could stand to earn at least $100.

Vail Resorts has opposed unionization in the past, and the process for the patrollers to establish a union was rocky after PCMR merged with then-Canyons Resort in 2015.

The educational rallies were held in conjunction with actions held by a fledgling union at Stevens Pass Resort in Washington state, which voted to unionize in April 2019 and has yet to sign its first contract with Vail Resorts.

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