PCMR leader optimistic, resort and ski patrol will reach contractual agreement

Mike Goar, vice president and chief operating officer of Park City Mountain Resort, says he is optimistic that PCMR owner Vail Resorts and the union representing ski patrollers are making progress in their ongoing labor negotiations. The parties have been in discussion since August 2020.​
Park Record File Photo

The Park City Mountain Resort executive said Monday he was disappointed the ski patrol union rejected the company’s latest contract proposal earlier this month, but hoped progress would be made when a trading session at the beginning of the week.

Negotiations between representatives of PCMR owner Vail Resorts and the Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association were scheduled for Tuesday evening.

“I’m optimistic that good things will come out of this,” said Mike Goar, vice president and chief operating officer of PCMR.

This is the second ski season that the resort’s patrollers and mountain security personnel have worked without a contract. The previous two-year contract covering the approximately 200 employees expired in November 2020.

Goar said the two sides reached tentative agreements on many issues. The sticking point was the $15 an hour starting wage for ski patrollers in the Vail Resorts proposal that the union rejected Dec. 17.

“We thought we had something in front of our patrol that they would ratify, that they would find very good,” Goar said. “It was disappointing but nonetheless, it just means we all have to get back to the table and keep working on it.”

The proposal included higher wages across the board, automatic wage increases in the future, retroactive pay for hours worked this winter, increased equipment allowances, increased incentive pay and more training. , did he declare. In addition, the station has improved sick pay and health benefits available to all employees, he said.

Goar said the proposal is competitive and very similar to an offer that the company’s unionized resort patrols in Breckenridge, Colorado, and Stevens Pass in Skykomish, Wash., recently almost unanimously ratified.

“We’re competitive with stations outside of our company and we’re basically the same as stations within our company, which are some of the biggest stations and biggest patrols in the country,” he said.

Employees who start a ski patrol job at PCMR with no experience go through training and start at $15 an hour, Goar said. However, they have opportunities for incentives even in their first year, and in their second year and beyond they get automatic and significant pay raises, he said.

The number of patrollers earning $15 an hour is low, and many have worked at the station for a long time and earn significantly more, Goar said.

“Everyone, including the most experienced patrollers, still has room above their current salary to progress,” he said.

The union and the company have been in talks since August 2020. Last winter, ski patrollers picketed PCMR in hopes of gaining community support, and union members again organized a protest at Canyons Village on the resort’s opening day in November.

Some protesters carried signs saying, “Not on strike, just training.” But Goar said he doesn’t think either side is considering a work stoppage, and the union president said a strike would be a last resort.

The union said a starting wage of $15 an hour is not enough to retain patrollers long-term and that it takes several winters for a patroller to gain the experience and skills to perform work at the highest level.

Goar, who has been in the ski industry for over 40 years, began his career working as a ski patroller for several years. The stint gave him an idea of ​​what patrolling does and what it takes to be a professional ski patroller, he said.

“They are so vital to station operations,” Goar said. “They are very good at what they do. We like them, which is why we’re at the table trying to find a deal that works for everyone and improves their benefits and salary. We have an amazing ski patrol and we want them to continue doing the amazing job they’ve been doing.


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