PCMR Patrollers Re-enter Contract with Resort Through May 1st, Multi-Year Agreement Still Uncertain
The ski patrol union at Park City Mountain Resort has re-entered a contract with the resort that will cover the patrollers through the end of this ski season.
When negotiations between the ski patrol union and PCMR parent company Vail Resorts over a new bargaining agreement stalled late last year, the union chose to terminate an extension of their old contract on January 1st.
PCMR’s ski patrollers had been working without a contract in place since then, but following a bargaining session late last week, the patrol union and the resort reached an agreement to re-enter their old contract through the end of the ski season. The current contract is scheduled to end on May 1st.
In a written statement shared with KPCW, PCMR Communications Manager Jessica Miller said, in part:
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement that reinstates the Patrol’s contract that they had previously elected to terminate effective January 1st. This contract provides more stability for our patrollers and our resort as we focus on delivering a successful, extended season to our guests.”
The statement goes on to say the patrollers are now eligible to receive a company-wide end-of-season bonus. PCMR previously claimed it would have been illegal for the patrollers to receive the bonuses due to the union’s compensation model, but said it could be the subject of future negotiations.
The patrollers say the company-wide bonuses were a nice gesture, but were disappointed to see theirs held up in negotiations, says Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association spokesperson Cressa Pratt.
“Providing a bonus to its seasonal employees was the right thing for the company to do,” Pratt says. “We are a bit disappointed that the company took the track that they did in making this big announcement that there would be season bonuses for everybody except for unionized employees. And we think the timing is really interesting that the company chose to single out union employees instead of offering us the bonus and bargaining with no strings attached, which they could have done if they really wanted to truly thank us for our hard work this season."
PCMR’s written statement reiterated their stance on the bonuses, saying they would have preferred to grant them directly, but “respect [the union’s] decision to have all compensation matters negotiated.”
Negotiations between the union and resort began last August. The central issues the union is seeking to negotiate are a pay raise and expanded access to sick time.
Pratt says, currently, patrollers need to accrue 1,500 service hours before becoming eligible for sick time, leaving many junior members of the patrol left to choose between going to work sick and getting paid.
Pratt says the union’s efforts are, in the long term, to turn ski patrol into a realistic profession for medical and avalanche experts.
“We’re really focused on the end goal and the reason we are doing this and taking the trouble, and that’s to make patrolling a viable career,” she says. “We are working to retain experience and talent and people who know the mountain so that we can keep ourselves and our guests safe. That’s the reason why we chose to unionize in the first place and that’s what we’re thinking about as we go into negotiations as the season is wrapping up. We have a responsibility to our coworkers to work with the company and get something done and that’s what we’re going to do.”
PCMR COO Mike Goar, a former ski patroller himself, joined negotiations in February, after the parollers held a pair of educational rallies in Park City to raise awareness for their cause.
Additional negotiating sessions between the resort and the union are scheduled through April and PCMR says they are ‘“hopeful’” they will reach a new multi-year agreement with the union.
The last successful contract negotiation between the union and the resort was in 2018.