Goar hopes to reach deal as contract negotiations with ski patrols drag on

PARK CITY, Utah – Talks between Vail Resorts, owner of Park City Mountain, and the Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association (PCPSPA) are underway after the union rejected the company’s latest proposal that offered a starting salary $ 15 an hour.

Park City Mountain Chief Operating Officer (COO) Mike Goar recently spoke to TownLift about the talks.

“I have an appreciation and an understanding of what it takes to be a patroller and I have a lot of appreciation for the hard work and skills it takes,” Goar said. He began his career in the mountains as a track patroller.

“We had provided a proposal which we believe and still believe to be a great proposal with salary improvements at all levels, equipment allowances, the ability to get a salary increase through incentives, improved training, access to the bonuses we offer to all of our employees. “

The chief operating officer said starting salaries were the main sticking point in the negotiations. He said the focus on compensation is “out of context” without considering the year-over-year increase and incentives provided to employees.

Due to the lack of an active contract, company policy follows the last expired contract. As a result, current patrollers are paid $ 13.25 per hour.

“Once they have acquired some of the skills, the extra skills, where they can do more as a professional patroller, they automatically move up to the next level of patrolling in their second year, and every year thereafter, and every year they have the opportunity to increase their salary, a lot of them are automatic, ”Goar said.

He said two of Vail Resorts’ other union patrollers recently signed contracts “which look a lot like the deal that’s been rejected here.” The Breckenridge Ski Patrol has approved his new contract with “almost unanimous” support.

Regarding salary incentives, PCPSPA Commercial Director Patrick Murphy said that “we have them in place which helps but they still fail to get our experienced patrollers to make a salary that they deserve ”.

“These incentives look like 50 cents for an EMT and then 75 cents for an advanced EMT,” Murphy said. Dog handlers receive a bonus of 65 cents. Once these certifications are completed, permanent salary increases are automatic.

Murphy said the incentive policy was in the last two contracts with Vail. “These incentives are largely unchanged in this contract, any major change that has been proposed to incentive pay is that accident investigators are getting 75 cents an hour all the time, rather than $ 2 an hour ad hoc when working on an accident investigation. “

He said the most notable change in the recently rejected contract is that you need fewer Avalanche Roads to get the Avalanche Road Leaders’ salary incentive.

“They are still not raising our experienced patrollers above 20 as they should be.”

Murphy said it wasn’t fair for the union to have the resort-wide starting salary of $ 15 an hour given the dangers of the ski patrol.

The union is preparing to present the company with a new proposal with a new salary structure at its next bargaining session. Murphy would not provide exact details.

The group recently launched a solidarity fund, which raised over $ 20,000 in a matter of days. They call it a “safety net in case we are forced into more important action and do not receive paychecks … It is only used to help patrol officers pay for basic needs such as rent.” and the food in our last / worst case scenario. “

Ida M. Morgan