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The ALTERRA SUCKS Thread

thetrailboss

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A few folks have been asking about one, so here it is.

The first post? When you see IKON's advertising in a few days, most likely pushing "diversity" and other values that younger and generally more politically left folks like, just remember that like Vail, this company also has fought to prevent its employees from even saying the word, "union." At Solitude, they fired a ski patroller two years ago who expressed an interest in organizing a ski patrol union. That resulted in a complaint with the NLRB that resulted in a settlement.

This season there is another effort to unionize and at least have a seat at the table to get better pay and be recognized for having to have EMT credentials to work at the resort. It is supported by 94% of the ski patrollers. And when asked if it would work with them and accept them? Alterra said hell no.

So when you see all those warm and fuzzy IKON ads portraying themselves as hip and progressive, remember that who is paying for the splashy ad campaign are two large private investment funds with a CEO who came over from Live Nation and is eager to introduce more of the "dynamic pricing" and other price gouging efforts while ignoring their own ski patrollers at the only "unlimited" IKON resort in Utah.

Solitude ski patrollers union organizers say better pay needed to keep experienced employees on the slopes​

The ski area would be the first one owned by Alterra Mountain Resorts to unionize.​

By Julie Jag
| Feb. 17, 2024

Over the past two years, Solitude Mountain Resort says it has offered its ski patrollers a 42% increase in starting salary, an equipment stipend and transportation to and from the resort. Its patrollers say that’s not enough.

They want a voice.

On Wednesday, Solitude’s ski patrollers notified managers of the Alterra Mountain Resorts-owned ski area that they had submitted a unionization petition to the National Labor Relations Board. They also asked the resort to voluntarily recognize their burgeoning union. Though it had a week to respond to that request, a spokesperson for Solitude confirmed the resort rejected it Thursday.

“While we are disappointed in Solitude’s decision to not voluntarily recognize our union,” patroller Robbie Kosinki wrote Thursday in a text to the Tribune, “we are excited to prevail during a union election and begin bargaining a contract.”

Kosinki said he expects a vote before the end of the month. If a majority of patrollers choose to unionize, the resort will have no option but to recognize the union. Of the 37 full-time and part-time patrollers at Solitude, Kosinki said 94% have signed union authorization cards.


We just want to have a voice at the table with our employer,” said Kosinki, 25, who, as a hill captain, is one of the ski patrol managers. “Right now we don’t feel like we’re being heard.”

In addition to the opportunity to bend management’s ear, the patrollers are pursuing better pay with a more transparent salary structure and incentives for further training and education, as well as health care benefits. The goal, Kosinki said, is to have the resort recognize that patrollers — who must be certified EMTs — are looking for a career, not just a winter job.

The patrollers, who are calling themselves the Solitude Ski Patrollers Association, could become the first to organize at an Alterra-owned resort. (The patrol at Colorado’s Steamboat resort unionized before it was purchased by Alterra). They would also become just the second Utah ski patrol to unionize, following in the footsteps of the Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association, which formed nearly 10 years ago.

If they unionize, they will become part of CWA Local 7781, also known as the United Professional Ski Patrols of America. That local also includes the patrol at Steamboat and the patrol and the lift maintenance crew at Park City Mountain. Patrols at two other resorts, Whitefish in Montana and Eldora in Colorado, have also recently petitioned to be in the same local union.

Max Magill, the president of CWA Local 7781 and a Park City patroller, said the union’s membership has swelled since both Park City and Telluride’s patrols joined during the 2015-16 season. At that time, he said, it included four ski patrols and roughly 300 employees. Now it’s closer to 12 “bargaining units” — including lift mechanics and bike patrols — and 800 employees.

“It appears that there’s a snowball that’s starting to roll down the mountain and is gathering more snow as it goes,” Magill said. “It does feel like it’s a movement.”

Magill linked the increased interest to more resorts falling into the hands of corporate owners. Vail Resorts owns more resorts, including Park City Mountain, than any other company in the world. Alterra, the parent company of both Solitude and Deer Valley in Utah, is second on that list with what will soon be 18 resorts in its stable. Alterra is owned by the private equity firm KSL Capital Partners and the investment firm Henry Crown and Company.

“As we’ve seen the ski industry become more corporatized,” he said, “it seems to be in the best interest of a lot of employees to be able to support their managers and really take a seat at the table and be able to ask for the things that they need to retain employees to provide guests with the best experience possible.”

Two years ago, Solitude reached an agreement with a ski patroller who had complained to the NLRB after the resort declined to rehire him. The patroller believed he was dismissed for sending a letter to Solitude’s chief operating officer, Amber Broadaway, that called for a more transparent wage scale and overtime pay, among other perks — benefits Solitude’s current patrollers are also pursuing.

As part of the agreement, Solitude agreed to post signs informing employees of their legally protected right “to form, join or assist a union.” It also improved overtime policies and included patrollers when it raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour for all non-tipped employees.

The starting pay for a patroller at Solitude is $21 per hour, just one dollar less than the starting wage at Park City Mountain.

“We are committed,” a statement released by the resort said, “to providing competitive wages, excellent benefits, and an employee experience that is fulfilling, safe, and inclusive of opportunities for growth.”

Sean Parent, a Solitude ski patroller for the past five years, said he’s heard that before.

“That response is pretty copy-paste from what we’ve seen during onboarding,” he said, “and our experience is actually very much the opposite.”

Parent, 22, said whenever patrol managers ask for higher wages or bigger budgets, they are shot down. He said that leads to more turnover and has created a “green” patrol at the resort. Better benefits and pay bumps for specialty certifications, he argued, would allow the resort to retain more of its patrol. In time, he said, the resort and its customers would reap the benefits because experienced crews can often be more efficient at opening avalanche-prone terrain.

Magill said that has been the outcome at Park City Mountain, at least in his experience.

“We’ve got our heads in the snow all the time. And we love it,” he said. “But it takes a lot of time to develop these skills.”

Kosinki said he expects Alterra and Solitude to campaign heavily against unionization. If fewer than half the patrollers vote in favor of the union, no changes will be made to the status quo. If the union gets the votes, Kosinki expects to start bargaining immediately. While that could include a strike — as the Park City patrol threatened after its most recent contract negotiations stretched out over 18 months — Kosinki said that’s a last resort.

In its statement issued Wednesday, Solitude said it is “dedicated to ongoing open dialogue with our employees regarding how we can continue to improve all aspects of their employee experience.”


 

zyk

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A few folks have been asking about one, so here it is.

The first post? When you see IKON's advertising in a few days, most likely pushing "diversity" and other values that younger and generally more politically left folks like, just remember that like Vail, this company also has fought to prevent its employees from even saying the word, "union." At Solitude, they fired a ski patroller two years ago who expressed an interest in organizing a ski patrol union. That resulted in a complaint with the NLRB that resulted in a settlement.

This season there is another effort to unionize and at least have a seat at the table to get better pay and be recognized for having to have EMT credentials to work at the resort. It is supported by 94% of the ski patrollers. And when asked if it would work with them and accept them? Alterra said hell no.

So when you see all those warm and fuzzy IKON ads portraying themselves as hip and progressive, remember that who is paying for the splashy ad campaign are two large private investment funds with a CEO who came over from Live Nation and is eager to introduce more of the "dynamic pricing" and other price gouging efforts while ignoring their own ski patrollers at the only "unlimited" IKON resort in Utah.




Patrollers are critical to operations and should be paid accordingly. They often have to handle emergency situations in a hostile environment. Way back smugglers notch had a sign at the top of the Madonna lift line something like if you're injured the only way down is a firemans carry. That's a tough run alone, but with someone over your shoulder...

I was dragged off a mountain (not smuggs) and my treatment was less than useful. Pay good wages attract skilled people. I like to believe I'm protected out there.
 

urungus

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thetrailboss

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AdironRider

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I mean doesn’t every ski area do that midweek? You see this even more often at the mom and pop shops that really can't afford to waste cash.

In terms of unions, unionized lift works at Park City hasn't led to any benefit to the customer IMO, given the lift issues they constantly have, but for ski patrol I think it makes sense to have a well compensated and trained staff. If Alterra isn't motivated to have that they will pay one way or another, either in lost business or increased wages.
 

Former Sunday Rivah Rat

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Alterra sucks just for making Sunday river so ridiculously crowded.

I also agree patrollers get the shaft on pay. Workers in general have been getting shafted the last 50 years
 

crystalmountainskier

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Not sure any US ski resort has ever voluntarily recognized a union. They typically force a formal NLRB election. Vail uses the time before an election to force their employees to attend "meetings" to "educate" pre-vote.
 
Last edited:

Bratwurst

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CEO Smith.jpg

Unions contribute NOTHING to our bottom line. Workers are expendable. We are a private investment fund. A hedge fund. So I am so EXCITED to announce that we will be replacing all Ski patrollers and ALL employees with cybernetic organisms!!!! For an additional fee of $1000.00 per passholder each season, you too can be serviced by our fleet of modern robots.

Your Best Friend,
Jared Snitch CEO, Psychopath and skier!!!!!


Ski-robot-cover-3807588115.jpg
 

Former Sunday Rivah Rat

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"Once your favorite mountain becomes IKONIC you won't believe the crowds. You will be begging to move to an independent mountain for temporary relief until we get them on board too!!! HAHAHAHA!
Screw the patrollers, they get to ski for free. They should pay us to be an IKON patroller."



ceo-smith-jpg.61193
 

Hawk

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I have no issues with Alterra. They are about to upgrade lifts that financially would not be possible before. They are also going to eventually upgrade snowmaking. I also get to ski all over on my pass.

It's not exactly the same but I guess trade offs are needed for now. And eventually, like all other dynastys, they will fall and we will have all new infrastructure to thank they for and go back to the old ways.

You have to play the long game.
 

cdskier

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Like Hawk, I really have no complaints at this point. I have no major issues with anything they've done at Sugarbush so far. Sorry to disappoint you TB!
 

KustyTheKlown

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very happy alterra customer.

highland was ski on all day during the holiday weekend

snowmass was gorgeous today
 

BenedictGomez

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Shared a lift last week with a guy from the Front who skied Solitude as a passholder for the prior 29 years. He says Alterra destroyed his mountain, it sucks now, the lines & crowds are horrific, and that as a result he will, "never give that company a penny" - so he bought an EPIC pass this season & now drives to Park City to ski.

Kind of slightly worried this is going to become more & more of a thing as people revolt or simply get sick-and-tired of the continued chaos ensuing at Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, and Brighton.
 

WHoisshane

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It seems that there is a contradiction between the image that Alterra is trying to project with its IKON pass and the reality that its workers and customers are facing.
 

joshua segal

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Shared a lift last week with a guy from the Front who skied Solitude as a passholder for the prior 29 years. He says Alterra destroyed his mountain, it sucks now, the lines & crowds are horrific, and that as a result he will, "never give that company a penny" - so he bought an EPIC pass this season & now drives to Park City to ski.

....
Interesting comment. The guy went from one mega pass to the other! Ultimately, the issue of mega-passes will resolve itself at the ticket window.

Also, ops of individual areas within the mega-passes, (IMO) are more due to the quality of local management rather than corporate headquarters.
 
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