Lee Mulcahy: A living wage for resort workers
It all started with a letter last May titled “SkiCo and free speech” praising the Aspen Skiing Company’s rehiring of singer Dan Sheridan after he sang “Big Money” on SkiCo property and the return of the Daily News to SkiCo property after its censorship.
Afterwards, I received e-mails from SkiCo designed to shut me up, noting that I “should check with my supervisor about my job status.” (Note that the National Labor Relations Board is investigating SkiCo’s policy on freedom of speech in the employee handbook.)
In my passion for social justice, I felt we could pressure the ownership – Lester Crown, a billionaire who donates $1 million of tax-deductible money to the United Way’s Tocqueville Society which works to “promote a living wage necessary for healthy families” – into putting into practice what his philanthropy endorses . Perhaps, it would best be accomplished by an Aspen city-wide ordinance mandating a living wage from my friends at City Council who support me similar to Santa Fe or Chicago.
This campaign is about economic injustice. We intend to raise the industry standard in Aspen, in Vail, in Breckenridge … all across the country. If we are successful in Aspen, it bodes well for the other resorts in Colorado.
Social protest has a long history in Aspen. And SkiCo has a long history of tolerance. We now pay $69 a day to beginning instructors for a lesson we charge $625. In Vail and Breckenridge, the pay borders on abuse.
But what if? That would be a company that deserves to be in Outside Magazine’s Top 10 employers … and one that I would be proud to work for.
In my May letter, I concluded with the following sentence: The struggle for our identity as a company and as a community continues just as it always has.
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