“Our union has 100% support from its members, and we are committed to forming our union regardless of the path we have to take to achieve it.”– Rob Alexander, a lift mechanic at Crested Butte Mountain Resort.
The lift mechanics crew at Crested Butte has become the second ski resort in the country to unionize. TownLift and the Colorado Sun report that lift mechanics at Crested Butte have unanimously voted to form a union. They need to receive voluntary recognition from Vail Resorts though in order to avoid a 4-6 delay that is required for a National Labor Relations Board election.
The first team of lift mechanics to unionize in the United States was over at Park City Mountain Resort in Utah, which is also owned by Vail Resorts. Ski patrollers at various ski resorts have joined unions in recent years.
Lift mechanics are with ski patrollers in the S-tier of the most important ski resort jobs. According to representatives at Communications Workers of America Local 7781, workers face difficult working conditions due to the weather and huge heights, very high turnover, and insufficient support for professional development. They also don’t get paid much, which is tricky considering the area’s housing crisis. At one point in 2019, entry-level workers at the local McDonald’s were making more than lift mechanics at the ski resort.
Thomas Pearman, who is in his second year of being a lift mechanic, described why they’re joining a union:
“Not many people understand what it really takes to maintain these machines. We want our mountain to prosper, but when all the decisions are being made in Broomfield boardrooms [Vail’s HQ], we are left out.”
Rob Alexander said the following about the process:
“It’s very difficult up here at the end of the road and everything that has happened in the last few years has made it tougher and tougher. It’s been a real struggle…This has been a long process to get to 100% and get everyone on board. It’s the Crested Butte way. We are all together on this. We are hoping to see Vail do the right thing and hopefully go right to negotiations.”
Tara Schoedinger, who is the general manager at Crested Butte, released the following statement to the Colorado Sun:
“I believe in engaging with all employees with respect, accountability, and transparency, and I encourage all staff members to communicate directly with me and our leadership team. My number one priority is working together as one team to ensure a positive employee experience, which includes sharing and addressing concerns together. I believe a direct relationship with our team works best rather than through a third party, and at the same time, am dedicated to working closely with our team whichever decision they make.”
Image Credits: Crested Butte Mountain Resort