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Unfair does not mean despair

Nicholas Biddle

Cheers to the Breckenridge Ski Patrol for picketing at the Grand Prix Big Air contest and for their collective efforts to negotiate a fair contract with Vail Resorts. It is good to see Summit County citizens standing together for fairness in the workplace. There is nothing fair about Vail Resorts executives taking home thousands of dollars in bonuses, while the rank and file took a 3 percent pay cut, when adjusted for inflation.

In a recent letter to the Summit Daily, Barton Howe suggests that “such is life in a capitalist society”. But this also is a democratic society in which citizens have the right to determine the best interest of the community through majority will.

Yes, all non-unionized Vail Resorts employees below the managerial level accepted the bitter pill of having cost-of-living adjustments and other promised pay raises rescinded in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. I’m one of them. We were exhorted to do so as a patriotic gesture for the good of the company in the uncertainties of a wartime economy. However, managers and executives did not act with the same patriotism.

They gladly banked their October bonuses rather than defer them, as was their option, until the future of the company and the economy became more clear.

The Dow Jones Industrial average has returned to 10,000. Normalcy, whatever it may be, is manifest. Patriotism is no longer a sufficient reason for workers to accept a pay cut, and that is what the Breckenridge Ski Patrol is being asked to do.

As the highly accomplished CEO of the largest private employer in Summit County, Adam Aron has every right to tell workers to lump it or leave it. He calculates that we need the work his corporation provides more than we need fairness. Clearly, his calculation is accurate. His stance on the issue of pay raises illuminates enormous power over the people of this county. But it does not generate confidence or good will.

It fosters cynicism and bitterness. The Breckenridge ski patrollers are standing in for all of us who reject double standards. Ultimately, Vail Resorts needs Summit County as much as Summit County needs Vail Resorts. I support the Breckenridge ski patrollers in their efforts to achieve fairness for the good of themselves, their families and this community. May they win.

Nicholas L. Biddle

Dillon


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