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I'm not against higher wages at ski resorts. I think people are

A. Overstating the impact foreign workers have on wages. Vail might be highly profitable, but the small businesses in resort towns offering similar jobs certainly aren't. If Stan's ski shop is paying their rental counter worker $12/hr or Joe's deli their sandwich maker $11/hr; what incentive does Vail have to pay much more? In my experience locals tend to choose the small businesses over the big resorts because they tend to have shorter off seasons.

B. Covid aside, look at the unemployment rates over the past twenty + years. It's never been all that bad outside of the 2009 economic crisis. Service industry workers aren't going to choose destinations where the cash tills ring six months a year at best over secure 12 month income in high density population centers. Young people have been leaving resort areas for decades.

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Here's how I arrive at the hypothesis that in an average year (call it a 5% unemployment year), you'd need a significant jump in wage rates to fill the gap if access to foreign labor were shut down.
-Most agree that resorts/resort towns do not have the bodies wanted/needed.
-As you mention, HR departments understand a modest wage increase isn't enough to entice domestic labor to come work for them.

This leaves one last sunroom l solution: raise wages a lot - until you get the labor pool you need.

This year, all bets are off. Demand for labor will be down, but supply is a mystery (likely no foreign labor (?) offset by more available domestic local/quasi local labor available).

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catskillman

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Raising wages doesn't make jobs magically appear in locations that have zero work to offer 6-9 months a year. That is the #1 reason for the reliance on foreign help. The fact that the labor comes cheap isn't the reason these businesses have gone this route. Talk to any HR department at XYZ Ski area or Beach resort and they will verify this.

The population of domestic workers willing to live a transient lifestyle migrating from ski resorts to beach resorts is very small. The available year round residents to recruit in most of these locations is also very small.

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so so true. even small resorts like Hunter and Windham in NY have to have these foreign workers. The local high schools graduate 20 kids a year, and most go off to college and never return.
Older residents cannot handle working outside in weather all day, multiple days in a row.
AND seasonal jobs are not eligible for unemployment when the ski season ends. IF they have medical coverage they have the summer months deducted from their pay during the winter, leaving very very little take home pay.

The foreign work programs are desperatly need unfortunatly.
 

catskillman

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Why is that? How do you explain paving workers just down the road in Rutland? What do they do in the winter? How is it that ski jobs at Yellowstone Club have a wait list, but in Vermont there's ads in newspapers for jobs that don't get filled? Who plows homeowner driveways in the winter at ski resorts? How does that pay compare to working for the resort?

I know 2 instructores that work at the Yellowstone club. First - the resort only hires you for a few weeks usually. These instructors are all top PSIA AASI level and examiners in the organization. Their clients are mainly very wealthy business men, not celebrities. Their tips are insane, and the pay from the resort is low. That is why everyone wants to work there. Housing provided is taxed as income by the way.
 

mister moose

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Vail Resorts made hundreds of millions in profits for the fiscal year 2019, seems like theres plenty of room there to pay competitive wages there, at a minimum to the core people you can't run a resort without
I did some back of the envelope figuring on this, and I agree with you. It appears they could afford a substantial raise to employees based on the last 3 years earnings. (Which is not a guarantee for the future, if your pay is based on company earnings that's called being a stockholder) They also need to plan for downturns, future investment, etc.

However, there is no reason any business should ever pay substantially more than market cost for labor. Market cost for labor is determined by supply and demand, and with a large supply of cheap foreign labor, wages get depressed. Wage rates don't get paid on good feelings, they get paid on market forces. As long as cheap foreign labor floods the market competitive wages will remain lower than they would otherwise be.
 

mister moose

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I know 2 instructores that work at the Yellowstone club. First - the resort only hires you for a few weeks usually. These instructors are all top PSIA AASI level and examiners in the organization. Their clients are mainly very wealthy business men, not celebrities. Their tips are insane, and the pay from the resort is low. That is why everyone wants to work there. Housing provided is taxed as income by the way.
Income is income, whether it comes form the resort or the client. The draw is the income, not who's paying it. As you illustrate, for a very short number of days the job is able to attract top talent as the pay is so lucrative.
 

catskillman

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Income is income, whether it comes form the resort or the client. The draw is the income, not who's paying it.
Agreed. But that is why instructors want to work at that resort. It is exclusive, wealthy and access is limited and screened. You will not get a group lesson of 10 drunk guys from Brooklyn.
 

mister moose

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Agreed. But that is why instructors want to work at that resort. It is exclusive, wealthy and access is limited and screened. You will not get a group lesson of 10 drunk guys from Brooklyn.
If you pay instructors well, you will have no shortage of talented people to teach drunk guys from Brooklyn.
 

cdskier

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Income is income, whether it comes form the resort or the client. The draw is the income, not who's paying it.

Actually it is very relevant. You people live in fantasy land if you think the resorts would simply eat the cost of substantially higher wages. They'd be passed on to the consumer via higher tickets and passes. And then you'll all bitch about that. And how many of your average snowsports consumers in the northeast would be willing to pay the difference? People keep saying we need to get more people into the sport and it is too cost-prohibitive as is, yet at the same time we're advocating for higher wages for ski area employees? Sorry, you can't have your cake and eat it too.
 

mister moose

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Actually it is very relevant. You people live in fantasy land if you think the resorts would simply eat the cost of substantially higher wages. They'd be passed on to the consumer via higher tickets and passes. And then you'll all bitch about that. And how many of your average snowsports consumers in the northeast would be willing to pay the difference? People keep saying we need to get more people into the sport and it is too cost-prohibitive as is, yet at the same time we're advocating for higher wages for ski area employees? Sorry, you can't have your cake and eat it too.

I'm on the side of not importing cheap non permanent resident labor to undercut the citizenry. I'm happy to let that job market reach equilibrium, and make my purchase decisions based on the prices that market produces.
 

BenedictGomez

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there is no reason any business should ever pay substantially more than market cost for labor. Market cost for labor is determined by supply and demand, and with a large supply of cheap foreign labor, wages get depressed. Wage rates don't get paid on good feelings, they get paid on market forces. As long as cheap foreign labor floods the market competitive wages will remain lower than they would otherwise be.

yes!
 

deadheadskier

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I feel like I'm in bizarro world. Two of the staunchest fiscal conservatives I know in internet land somehow think there's this magic wage threshold that will eliminate the need (or significantly reduce) the reliance on foreign workers by ski resorts. These same two I'm certain have argued against raising the minimum wage to a living wage.

A lifty ain't going to make Alaskan oil rig wages ever.

What world do you people live in? Service industry workers are paid utter crap virtually every where in this country. Sure, there are some socially respectful companies that do at least ok by their workers. Costco and Whole Foods to name a couple.

How much do you think the local bank teller, retail worker, convenience store clerk, hotel housekeeper etc are paid in the flatlands? Utter crap is the answer. Do you make the same passionate arguments for those businesses to pay people better? Never that I've seen.

Yet somehow the ski resorts can just back up the brinks truck and domestic workers will flock there for wages that only last for 15 weeks in winter and another 15-20 in summer/foliage season? With zero unemployment eligibility during the other 20 or so weeks when us tourists don't show up to spend money?

Pretty certain BG has gone as far as predicting the eventual demise of Vail. Yet adding labor cost is what they should do?

As for the old days pre-H2B when resorts could get by on local talent? The labor demands were a fraction of what they are today. Smaller or fewer day lodges, fewer hotels, full service restaurants, non-skiing amenities, less snowmaking, grooming, fewer lifts and on and on. A bigger factor than any of that was a lack of local housing affordability problems like what exists today. There was no where near the amount of second home owners or real estate investors buying everything up for short term rentals and pushing the natives out of town. Local population demographics in resort areas speak for themselves. Just look at the school district retractions going on in VT, Cape Cod etc.

I think you both need to come clean and admit your issues with H2B expansion is rooted in Nationalism. It certainly isn't in economic reality.





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BenedictGomez

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You people live in fantasy land if you think the resorts would simply eat the cost of substantially higher wages. They'd be passed on to the consumer via higher tickets and passes. And then you'll all bitch about that. And how many of your average snowsports consumers in the northeast would be willing to pay the difference? People keep saying we need to get more people into the sport and it is too cost-prohibitive as is, yet at the same time we're advocating for higher wages for ski area employees? Sorry, you can't have your cake and eat it too.

Nobody said that. Yes, of course the tickets would be more if wages increased; so be it. I'd pay to restore order to the market.

Your above post, however, (and that of some others) ignores something very important to this conversation; inflation.

The actual real wages paid by ski resorts have dropped over the years due to the massive influx of foreign workers, and real ticket prices have increased during that timeframe (not counting the ludicrous recent "fake" single day EPIC/IKON ticket prices based not on market forces, but on "forcing" people to buy passes) a bit. The actual real electricity cost has also decreased during that timeframe.

So you have:

#1 cost of ski resorts = labor = Went down
#2 cost of ski resorts = power (I believe? Someone please correct me if I'm wrong) = Went Down
And cost of ski resorts = income tax = Went down

Versus:

Real ticket prices = Depends where you ski, but most probably up.

So it seems to me some juice can be safely squeezed from this lemon & most resorts could surely sustain a decent increase in labor.
 

cdskier

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Vail Resorts made hundreds of millions in profits for the fiscal year 2019, seems like theres plenty of room there to pay competitive wages there, at a minimum to the core people you can't run a resort without

Plenty of room? I'm not so sure about that. Net Income in 2019 for Vail was $323M. Seems like a lot...but let's take a look further down whether it really is. And let's factor in the following hypothesis from EPB (which I think is fairly realistic)...

Here's how I arrive at the hypothesis that in an average year (call it a 5% unemployment year), you'd need a significant jump in wage rates to fill the gap if access to foreign labor were shut down.
-Most agree that resorts/resort towns do not have the bodies wanted/needed.
-As you mention, HR departments understand a modest wage increase isn't enough to entice domestic labor to come work for them.

This leaves one last sunroom l solution: raise wages a lot - until you get the labor pool you need.

I don't know what the definition of "a lot" is, but let's run the numbers with several examples. (And to be honest, maybe something is off in my math or my interpretation of Vail's financial statements, etc...so feel free to correct any blatant errors. I'm not going to pretend to be perfect)

Vail has ~32,000 seasonal employees (this might be pre-Peaks acquisition...not sure). If we assume only 40 hours a week for those employees, a mere $1/hr raise would cost Vail $1.28M per week. Let's assume the core ski season where you have all those employees is only 15 weeks (realistically probably a bit more than that, but I'm trying to provide a conservative view). That's $19.2M additional expenses for Vail...from a simple $1/hr increase. And let's face it, $1/hr more is not going to convince anyone to flock to a ski resort for seasonal work.

$1/hr - $19.2M
$5/hr - $96M (honestly still don't think this is enough of an increase for people to temporarily relocate to a ski resort community for maybe 4 or so months of seasonal work. If they were earning minimum wage before, this only brings them up to ~$16/hr).
Maybe "a lot" can be defined as $10/hr more...now you're up to $192M extra (and this is still assuming only 15 weeks of work. Expand that to 20 weeks and you're up to $256M. And if people work more than 40 hours a week then it is even higher).

Oh...and these figures don't include the additional social security taxes etc that Vail would be responsible for. Also not sure if things like Workers Comp insurance at tied to wages at all, but if so that could drive up the costs more.

I'd like to think people still want ski resorts to be able to re-invest money back into the resorts in the form of capital improvements. If you eat up all their net income with wage increases for all their seasonal employees how are they going to do that?
 

snoseek

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You go epic or cannon?
I think I'm gonna do epic and an indy. If the epic is not looking good by december then I'll refund as my cannon pass will stay the same price anyhow. As a midweek skier I'm not too co concerned wildcat will be too crazy and crotchedand sunnapee are close enough for when I'm lazy. If the world doesn't explode by winter I'll probably take a good part of it off anyhow...its.been a long summer
 

mister moose

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I feel like I'm in bizarro world. Two of the staunchest fiscal conservatives I know in internet land somehow think there's this magic wage threshold that will eliminate the need (or significantly reduce) the reliance on foreign workers by ski resorts. These same two I'm certain have argued against raising the minimum wage to a living wage.

<Snip for lack of relevance>

I think you both need to come clean and admit your issues with H2B expansion is rooted in Nationalism. It certainly isn't in economic reality.
I never said living wage. I never said raise minimum wage. I said free market competitive wage. Even put it in bold letters for you.
 

deadheadskier

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Plenty of room? I'm not so sure about that. Net Income in 2019 for Vail was $323M. Seems like a lot...but let's take a look further down whether it really is. And let's factor in the following hypothesis from EPB (which I think is fairly realistic)...



I don't know what the definition of "a lot" is, but let's run the numbers with several examples. (And to be honest, maybe something is off in my math or my interpretation of Vail's financial statements, etc...so feel free to correct any blatant errors. I'm not going to pretend to be perfect)

Vail has ~32,000 seasonal employees (this might be pre-Peaks acquisition...not sure). If we assume only 40 hours a week for those employees, a mere $1/hr raise would cost Vail $1.28M per week. Let's assume the core ski season where you have all those employees is only 15 weeks (realistically probably a bit more than that, but I'm trying to provide a conservative view). That's $19.2M additional expenses for Vail...from a simple $1/hr increase. And let's face it, $1/hr more is not going to convince anyone to flock to a ski resort for seasonal work.

$1/hr - $19.2M
$5/hr - $96M (honestly still don't think this is enough of an increase for people to temporarily relocate to a ski resort community for maybe 4 or so months of seasonal work. If they were earning minimum wage before, this only brings them up to ~$16/hr).
Maybe "a lot" can be defined as $10/hr more...now you're up to $192M extra (and this is still assuming only 15 weeks of work. Expand that to 20 weeks and you're up to $256M. And if people work more than 40 hours a week then it is even higher).

Oh...and these figures don't include the additional social security taxes etc that Vail would be responsible for. Also not sure if things like Workers Comp insurance at tied to wages at all, but if so that could drive up the costs more.

I'd like to think people still want ski resorts to be able to re-invest money back into the resorts in the form of capital improvements. If you eat up all their net income with wage increases for all their seasonal employees how are they going to do that?
^

Gets it

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deadheadskier

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I never said living wage. I never said raise minimum wage. I said free market competitive wage. Even put it in bold letters for you.
Scroll up to a prior post of mine. Local small businesses in resort towns also pay their often local talent (most don't have the HR recruitment resources or employee housing available to go foreign) low wages. What's the delta between what Forerunner ski shop pays their rental department workers and what Mike Solimano pays his H2Bs at KBL doing the same job? $2 an hour? $3?

Have you taken up your grievances with Mike? You certainly haven't spoken with your wallet and walked away from Killington.

You seem quite passionate about this subject, but how much real monetary action are you placing behind such beliefs?

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mister moose

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I'd like to think people still want ski resorts to be able to re-invest money back into the resorts in the form of capital improvements. If you eat up all their net income with wage increases for all their seasonal employees how are they going to do that?

Because the economy is not static. Because prices would rise if industry costs rise due to a non-diddled with labor market.

Vail sold 750,000 epic passes at $950 a pop in 18-19, 925,000 total passes. Let's take your $5/hr increase at a cost of $96 million and apply it to 925,000 passes. That's $103.75 more per pass. You're saving 100 bucks by manipulating the labor market and undercutting the citizenry. (No I don't have a crystal ball and am not sure $5 is the number, that's just an example)

Given the big revenue generators are more than just tickets/passes, it's food & beverage, ski school, and lodging. Those revenue generators would spread the added labor cost more, so the added pass price would be considerably less than $100.
 

mister moose

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Scroll up to a prior post of mine. Local small businesses in resort towns also pay their often local talent (most don't have the HR recruitment resources or employee housing available to go foreign) low wages. What's the delta between what Forerunner ski shop pays their rental department workers and what Mike Solimano pays his H2Bs at KBL doing the same job? $2 an hour? $3?
Saw that the first time. Dunno. I bet it ranges quite a bit for a talented boot fitter compared to a rental department or retail sales employee. Not sure the relevance of any of that. Maybe I'll ask Brian next time I'm in.

Have you taken up your grievances with Mike? You certainly haven't spoken with your wallet and walked away from Killington.
Wut? That's just plain stupid. Anywhere else I went would have the same employment practice. This is a national issue, not something Killington itself can change. Killington has to compete in the industry against other areas that employ cheaper labor.

You seem quite passionate about this subject, but how much real monetary action are you placing behind such beliefs?
What are you suggesting? We're discussing labor policy, I never claimed to be an activist in the matter.
 
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