Vail Resorts’ new minimum wage still lags behind town’s true pay scale
June 19, 2015
Despite the excitement about Vail Resorts’ arrival in Park City and the giddy anticipation of linking two of the town’s main attractions, Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort, there have also been some deep concerns. An important one was whether employees’ salaries at the two mountain resorts might suffer at the hands of such a large employer .
Vail Resorts stepped forward this week to help allay those fears.
In a letter to employees, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz announced the company is raising its minimum entry-level hourly wage to $10, well above Utah’s minimum benchmark of $7.25. According to the letter, the increase will be implemented in September, just in time for the 2015-2016 ski season. The change will affect all 11 of the company’s resorts.
Vail Resorts’ decision is laudable though not as altruistic as it may sound.
Try offering a prospective employee $7.25 an hour in Park City and you will be mopping the floors yourself.
According to several local employers, $10 an hour is on the low end of the area’s true minimum wage. With new restaurants, hotels and shops coming on line from Old Town to Newpark, managers are reportedly starting new employees in the range of $11 to $12.50 an hour.
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In a service-laden economy, like Park City’s, employers are constantly scrambling to hire warm bodies. The new minimum may or may not be enough to sustain the kind of staff Vail Resorts hopes to attract, especially given the lack of local affordable housing. But it is a step in the right direction.
Still, at a time when state and federal elected officials are reluctant to support a minimum wage increase in fear of agitating big business interests, it is refreshing to hear a big corporation like Vail Resorts pledging of its own accord to guarantee a more livable minimum wage. In Utah, especially, it sets a good example.
In his letter Katz admits the company’s new minimum doesn’t go far enough and he suggests that additional measures may be forthcoming. We hope that is true. As a major employer in the community, Vail Resorts will set the pace for other businesses in town.
Vail Resorts’ decision to raise its minimum wage is one more indication, in a growing list of positive commitments, it intends to be a good corporate citizen. But the company also knows that the coming year is going to be extremely competitive and its success will be dependent on attracting a full complement of qualified personnel.