Letter to the editor: I urge Keystone ski patrollers to vote to unionize | SummitDaily.com

Letter to the editor: I urge Keystone ski patrollers to vote to unionize

Tim Cooney


As a recently retired long-term Aspen Mountain ski patroller, former Aspen Professional Ski Patrol Association president and union negotiator, I support the Keystone ski patrol’s upcoming vote to unionize. Today, ski patrols on all four Aspen ski areas are unionized.

Unions form because of a failure of management at the time. The right of employees to have a voice in the terms of their employment is the basis of the longstanding National Labor Relations Act.

Since 1986, APSPA’s contract with Aspen Skiing Co. has been refined through changing management groups with different attitudes. Still, this has led to higher patrol wages and better benefits, plus trust and acceptance benefiting both sides. Often midmanagers admit how the negotiated contract makes managing easier because wages, equipment allowances, leaves of absence and disciplinary protocol — to name a few — are clearly outlined.

Vail Resort’s counter argument against a third-party entering negotiations between Keystone patrollers and management is specious. The reason employees affiliate with a national union is because their workplace concerns remain unresolved by resistant management who prefer unilateralism. There is strength, knowhow and financial depth when a national union helps negotiate a fledgling union’s first contract.

As consumer expectations and litigation increase, professional ski patrolling has become more complex. The job involves technical lift evacuations, accident investigation, safety and hazard evaluation, avalanche mitigation with explosives, and EMT to paramedic life-saving response. Each day a professional ski patroller does their job well saves the company millions of dollars in litigation.

While resort management tends to come and go, professional ski patrollers are part of the backbone of local community. I urge the Summit County community to support its ski patrol and for the Keystone ski patrol to vote for unionization. Working conditions and benefits will improve when both sides bargain in good faith.




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