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Park City ski patrol union prepared for work stoppage

PARK CITY, Utah — In a secret ballot vote this weekend, 98% of members of the Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association (PCPSPA) voted to approve a strike authorization.

“A strike authorization does not mean that a walkout is inevitable; however, it does show that our membership is prepared to participate in a work stoppage if necessary,” PCPSPA said in a post.

The union represents roughly 90% of the patrollers at Park City Mountain.

PCPSPA has raised over $77,000 via over 1,300 individual donations through its “solidarity fund” on GoFundMe, as contract negotiations continue between the union and Park City Mountain owner Vail Resorts.

The union’s goal is a $17 an hour starting wage. PCPSPA Business Manager Patrick Murphy has said it isn’t fair for the union to have the resort-wide starting wage of $15 an hour, given the physical challenges of ski patrol. He also said the union wants more wage incentives for experienced patrollers.

Due to the lack of an active contract, rookie patrollers are starting at $13.25 per hour, despite the resort-wide $15 per hour starting wage.

Union negotiators will be meeting with Vail Resorts for their 50th bargaining session since August of 2020 on Monday night.

“We understand that a strike has significant consequences reaching far beyond our membership to other mountain employees and the Park City community. Ideally, the company sees this authorization as an indicator of our collective strength and offers us a reasonable contract without requiring further action,” PCPSPA said.

“If all goes well, the next time we update, you will be with a contract in hand reflecting the specialized nature of our job and the irreplaceable value of our most tenured patrollers. However, we are proceeding with the due process required to strike should we fail to arrive at an acceptable agreement.”

“We continue to have productive conversations with the union and have another collective bargaining session scheduled for Monday (this) evening,” Vail Resorts said in a statement.

Park City Mountain Chief Operating Officer Mike Goar, a former patroller at Solitude in Big Cottonwood Canyon, told TownLift he has “an appreciation and understanding of what it takes to be a patroller” and “a great deal of appreciation for the hard work and the skill set it takes.”

He called their rejected proposals, which had starting wages for union patrollers at $15 per hour, “excellent” and referenced recently ratified contracts with other patrol unions at Vail Resorts.

A viral email thread shared widely on social media on Friday allegedly shows Vail Resorts Patrol Manager Nathan Jones trying to recruit ski patrollers at Vail-owned Attitash Mountain Resort in New Hampshire to work temporarily at Park City Mountain in preparation for a work stoppage.

Jones allegedly was offering those interested $600 per day or $75 per hour for an eight-hour workday along with travel costs to work at Park City Mountain.

TownLift spoke with Jones, who confirmed he works for Vail. He declined to comment on the email and the context of the offer.

Vail Resorts, however, denies recruiting temporary patrollers to Park City.

“This message is not accurate, was not authorized by Vail Resorts, and suggests an active effort to recruit patrollers to Park City, which is not true,” Vail Resorts said in a statement. The company went on to say that they are “of course taking steps to prepare the resort for a possible work stoppage in the interest of our guests, employees, and community.”

The Salt Lake Tribune was able to independently confirm that the email was sent by a Vail employee on Thursday night before it was quickly retracted.

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