Letters, Feb. 4-7: This is a ski town wage crisis | ParkRecord.com

Letters, Feb. 4-7: This is a ski town wage crisis

A quick note about ski town economics 101. Say you take a private lesson for $1,000 -$1,300, for example. The resort gets a whopping $800-$1,000 and your instructor gets a paltry $200-$300, before taxes, to spend all day keeping you safe and happy, entertained and elucidated. That’s about $20-$30 an hour if you count their commute time and ignore their training, certification, prep time, practice, lineup, equipment, exercise and grooming. That is what they are paying people to bus tables, drive buses and even work the ski patrol in towns where the average home is $4 million, a small room is $1,500 and a 4WD car is $500 a month. Sure, ski workers take the job mostly for the love of the sport, but this is not an employee supply-chain concern or a housing issue, it is a wage crisis.

During COVID we all learned to show our appreciation for essential workers, such as the cashiers at Papa Murphy’s, by checking the new Apple tip boxes at checkout for 15%, 20%, even 25%. Everything in America became 30% more than the listed price, if you included tip and taxes. We needed to take care of the little guys and they were, literally, not making a living wage during those uncertain times. This was good and proper, and it is fair that it has continued.  

Unfortunately, corporate America has embraced this and shifted the burden of paying a living wage directly to the customer, bypassing the possible negative effects on their profit margin. Corporate industrial skiing has done the same thing; shift the employee wage burden to the consumers while they take the money and run, under the allure of selling millions of cheap passes that let us all ski for just $20-40$ a day. We all know the model. 

And we all know that the proper solution is for the ski corporations to share a bigger slice of the profit pie with their employees. They made hundreds of million dollars last year and ski school revenues are up at least 50%. But we know that is not going to happen due to worker dedication and poor representation, so the next time you hire someone for a day of instruction and care, guidance and education, consider their economy. 

The hundred-dollar ski school tip that seemed generous years ago is less than 10% of the actual cost and is hardly a living wage. 15-20% would be more consistent with the modern, trickle-down, tipping economy and 25% would send the real message of appreciation that you intend, and all our resort workers deserve. Your largess is their living.

Matt Lindon


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