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Park City ski patrol union focused on preventing strike after ‘not authorized’ Vail email asks for temporary patrollers

Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association members hold signs and attract honks from drivers on Highway 224.
Ben Lasseter
Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association members hold signs and attract honks from drivers on Highway 224.

An email allegedly sent by a Vail Resorts employee offering $600 per day for temporary ski patrollers at Park City Mountain Resort was widely shared on social media Friday. Vail Resorts says the email was not authorized.

Vail Resorts and the Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association have been locked in intense contract negotiations for the last 18 months and have yet to reach a new agreement.

A screenshot of the email first circulated on Instagram Friday afternoon and appeared to show a Vail employee reaching out to ski patrollers at Attitash Mountain, New Hampshire, and offering them $600 per day plus travel expenses for temporary work in Park City. Attitash and PCMR are both Vail-owned.

When contacted by KPCW, Vail Resorts declined to comment on whether an employee sent the email, but added that “no effort to reach out directly to patrollers to come to Park City was suggested, authorized, or initiated by Vail Resorts. The compensation discussed in the email was also never discussed.”

Vail’s statement went on to say that the company has had internal conversations about “minimizing any impact of a work stoppage to the resort and to the community.”

A representative for PCMR also told KPCW that the resort was not involved in drafting any email to outside ski patrollers.

Patrick Murphy is the union’s business manager at the Canyons Village and said the union has spoken with Vail about the email. He said Vail confirmed to them that the company is making preparations for a potential work stoppage.

“We just hope they haven’t lost sight of our real focus here, which is coming to terms on a contract," said Murphy. "We still think that there is a path to that contract, so we hope that their efforts are still focused on that and not focused on what will happen after a work stoppage. We’re still focused on preventing a work stoppage on our end.”

The union has also been raising money to prepare for a possible strike themselves. As of Saturday, their GoFundMe page has raised nearly $70,000.

The biggest obstacle in the talks so far has been the union’s request for a $17/hr starting wage. Vail has not offered more than $15/hr, which is in line with base pay for Vail employees in Utah, Colorado, California, and Washington.

PCMR’s ski patrollers currently start at $13.25/hr. Union leadership says a $17/hr wage is in line with starting patrol wages at other western resorts.

The two sides could not reach an agreement after two bargaining sessions last week. Murphy said the union hopes to hold further negotiations Monday night.

“At our last bargaining session on Thursday, they failed to present a proposal to us, so we have presented another proposal to them," he said. "We are looking to meet with them on Monday night, and hopefully they can come to the table ready to talk about numbers and come to an agreement with us.”

Vail said the company has been “encouraged” by the most recent discussions with the union and are “very hopeful to avoid any impacts to the resort or our Park City community.”

Sean Higgins covers all things Park City and is the Saturday Weekend Edition host at KPCW. Sean spent the first five years of his journalism career covering World Cup skiing for Ski Racing Media here in Utah and served as Senior Editor until January 2020. As Senior Editor, he managed the day-to-day news section of skiracing.com, as well as produced and hosted Ski Racing’s weekly podcast. During his tenure with Ski Racing Media, he was also a field reporter for NBC Sports, covering events in Europe.