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In a historic move yesterday, Park City Resort’s lift mechanics and electricians voted 35-6 to unionize. They will join CWA District 7, which also includes the United Professional Ski Patrollers of America, home to Park City’s ski patrol, which unionized in 2015, as well as patrollers from Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Steamboat, and Telluride, among others. This marks the first time that this group of crucial U.S. mountain ops workers has made the move to unionize. So why should you care?
At Park City Resort, the lift mechanics and electricians are responsible for the upkeep of the resort’s massive lift infrastructure, comprising 44 chairs and surface lifts. That’s a huge responsibility at the U.S.’s largest ski resort. Now, these workers, who are experts in their field, will have a voice in how the resort is managed and be able to ensure that guest safety is always at the forefront. It could also incentivize similar moves from mountain ops at other major ski resorts.
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The vote came after resort mechanics petitioned for representation with the National Labor Relations Board in October, citing staff shortages and pay not on par with the risk and demand of their type of work. According to the petition, the mountain op staff felt that their concerns would be best addressed by unionizing and sharing one collective voice with the end goal of improved lift network and mountain safety for skiers. The vote took place yesterday (Nov. 22), passing easily. They will be known as the Park City Lift Maintenance Professional Union.
“By unionizing we are no longer passengers, but active participants in the direction Park City Mountain Resort and Vail Resorts Management Company are headed,” said Christopher Field, an electrician at Park City Resort.
In addition to giving these professionals a say in resort operations at the highest level, unionizing also gives them a path toward real change, starting with negotiating a contract for the 2022-’23 season, which they currently don’t have.
“Given that we are now unionized, we have the opportunity to enter into a collective bargaining agreement with Vail Resorts,” said Liesl Jenkins, a lift mechanic at Park City Mountain Resort. “I’m incredibly excited to be able to advocate for ourselves as a department and enact real change through a contract.”