Purgatory ski patrollers form union, push for better wages as part of national resort labor movement | SummitDaily.com

Purgatory ski patrollers form union, push for better wages as part of national resort labor movement

Purgatory patrollers join unionized peers in Aspen, Big Sky, Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Park City, Steamboat, Stevens Pass and Telluride in collective bargaining

Jason Blevins
The Colorado Sun
Ski patrollers at Purgatory train with the crew of a Flight for Life helicopter in February 2021 at the La Plata County ski area.
Cameron Kautzman/Special to The Colorado Sun

DURANGO — Pete Kemery spent last winter living in his truck camper parked at a friend’s house. 

“I wasn’t paying rent so I was able to make my job work,” said the ski patroller at Purgatory ski area outside Durango. “That’s pretty common for a lot of us. And I guess we’ve reached a point where we can’t do it that way anymore.”

This spring patrollers at Purgatory voted 35-3 to unionize. Later this month the patrollers — now part of the United Professional Ski Patrols of America — will meet with management and the ownership group Mountain Capital Partners to discuss increased wages and improved benefits. Last month 13 of Purgatory’s summertime mountain bike patrollers informed Mountain Capital Partners they intended to vote for unionization as well. 

“We want to be able to survive in our town, working a job that means a lot to us and we want to be able to maintain a really strong team year over year without the threat of turnover,” Kemery said.

Last year patrollers at Vail Resorts’ Breckenridge narrowly approved unionization, joining patrollers at the company’s Crested Butte, Park City and Stevens Pass resorts. Steamboat and Telluride patrollers have been members of the United Professional Ski Patrols of America union for several years. Aspen Skiing Co. patrollers are part of a private union. Patrollers at Big Sky in Montana last year voted to join a union while Keystone patrollers rejected a unionization effort in April 2021. 

Read more at ColoradoSun.com.

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