Solitude settles with former ski patroller who says he was fired after citing security, wage considerations

When Solitude Mountain Resort appointed a brand new chief working officer in the summertime of 2021, ski patroller Kai Myers hoped the change in management would assist enhance working situations on the Big Cottonwood Canyon ski space.

Though he solely labored on the resort for 2 seasons, Myers had already seen a big diploma of turnover among the many ski patrol, which gives emergency medical companies on the mountain, conducts evacuations and controls avalanches utilizing explosives.

Myers reached out to his colleagues to debate contacting the brand new president and COO, Amber Broadaway, to share their considerations. Along along with his co-workers, Myers drafted a letter about how modifications to the ski patrol program may enhance security and assist retain certified patrollers.

He drafted a letter that known as for a extra clear payscale, extra time pay after 40 hours of labor in every week, cost-of-living wage will increase and different advantages. He shared it along with his managers earlier than sending it to Broadaway. The letter famous it could possibly take three years to be thought of a completely skilled patroller and argued excessive turnover presents security considerations.

A number of weeks later, Myers acquired a name from a supervisor. He was out of a job.

(Kai Myers) Former ski patroller Kai Myers on the job at Solitude Mountain Resort in 2020.

The 26-year-old was instructed the choice to not rehire him was associated to efficiency points, even if he had been complimented for his work the earlier season and had been provided a job earlier that summer season. Myers was devastated.

“So much of my identity was being a Solitude ski patroller,” he stated. “To have Solitude say, ‘Hey, you are so bad that even though we really desperately need people, you can’t come back,’ — it was an incredibly difficult process.”

But Myers felt the resort’s resolution could have been extra associated to the letter than to his efficiency, and he filed a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a federal company charged with implementing United States labor legal guidelines.

The NLRB investigated the case and ready to difficulty a grievance alleging that Myers had not been rehired as a result of the corporate believed he was trying to kind a union, a protected exercise.

Earlier this month, Myers reached a settlement with Solitude.

In an emailed assertion, Broadaway stated Solitude doesn’t touch upon non-public personnel issues and the phrases of the decision with Myers are confidential.

“While Solitude rejects the allegations in the Complaint former Ski Patroller Kai Myers filed with the National Labor Relations Board,” Broadaway stated, “we felt a voluntary and mutually agreeable resolution was in the best interests of all parties involved.”

“Solitude values its employees,” she continued, “and recognizes their right to engage in activities protected by the National Labor Relations Act.”

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) New Solitude Mountain Resort President/COO Amber Broadaway greets skiers and snowboarders lined up for opening day of the winter season on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.

Although the small print of the settlement are confidential, Myers stated he was “made financially whole” by the corporate. Solitude agreed to submit indicators in sure areas of the resort that inform staff about their legally protected proper “to form, join or assist a union” and “to work together with other employees for their benefit and protection.”

In the discover, which was reviewed by The Salt Lake Tribune, Solitude additionally agrees it won’t refuse to rent staff who carry considerations about wages and dealing situations to the administration’s consideration.

“It was really cool to see that the system works,” Myers stated of the NLRB course of.

Solitude ski patrollers don’t at the moment have union illustration, however many ski patrols within the Intermountain West are unionized, together with Aspen-Snowmass, which is on the Ikon Pass with Solitude.

Solitude is owned by Alterra Mountain Company, which is in flip owned by the non-public funding group Henry Crown and Company and the non-public fairness agency KSL Capital Partners.

Nearby Park City Mountain — which is owned by Alterra’s main competitor, Vail Resorts — noticed a string of labor actions led by its ski patrol union during the last yr, culminating in a strike authorization vote in January. But Vail and the union reached a deal earlier than patrollers walked out.

“I think we are at a pivotal moment in labor across the U.S., including the ski industry,” stated Julia McCarrier Edwards, a member of Park City’s ski patrol union. She pointed to union drives at Starbucks, Amazon and different ski patrols as examples of employees coming collectively to problem the established order.

“Workers know their value and that the ski industry wouldn’t be profitable without our labor and expertise,” she stated. “Resort management is finally learning that without livable wages, we won’t keep talent. I think the skiing public wants their resorts to take care of their employees, and supports workers organizing to have a say. It’s incredibly exciting and hopeful.”

Although Myers — who’s planning to depart the ski trade to attend graduate college — stated he’s disenchanted that he’s now not a patroller, he doesn’t remorse taking a stand for his fellow employees.

Solitude elevated wages for the ski patrol this yr and improved extra time insurance policies, Myers stated, including that if the brand new insurance policies assist scale back turnover, it can assist guarantee customer security and will enhance the resort’s backside line in the long term.

“That’s so good,” he stated. “I’m certainly not going to take credit for all of the changes that have happened at Solitude. But I also have to imagine that this whole process has incentivized them to do the right thing, and that it nudged them in the right direction.”

Zak Podmore is a Report for America corps member for The Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps maintain him writing tales like this one; please contemplate making a tax-deductible reward of any quantity immediately by clicking right here.

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