Avon, CO – Beaver Creek Resort could soon have the only unionized group of ski instructors in the nation.
A group of Beaver Creek ski instructors known as Beaver Creek Instructors United is consulting with the AFL-CIO’s Denver chapter of the Communications Workers of America (CWA). They’ll need to get 30 percent of the resort’s instructors to sign a petition for unionization before they may ask the National Labor Relations Board for a vote, although CWA officials prefer to see that number closer to 50 percent.
The CWA already represents ski patrols at four U.S. resorts: Steamboat, and Crested Butte in Colorado, and Canyons Resort in Utah, which like Beaver Creek is owned by Vail Resorts. Whether or not the Canyons union will survive the merger with Park City remains to be seen. Ski patrollers at Taos, N.M., will hold a vote to unionize in November.
On their website, Beaver Creek Instructors United indicates that the group is seeking “fair and commensurate wages and benefits; (a) safe and conducive ski environment for instructors and our guests; respectful and professional treatment for snow-sport instructors; appropriate teaching and training resources and environments; collaborative dialogue with Vail Resorts, and effective input on policies and initiatives; and a sustainable, professional culture within our resort.”
The group cites U.S. Department of Labor and AFL-CIO statistics that show that wages, job-provided health insurance participation and paid sick leave benefits are all higher on average for union members than non-union workers, and that productivity increases have outpaced wage increases over the past 30 years.
This season, Beaver Creek will pay non-certified instructors $10.50 per hour, while Level 3 instructors will earn $18 per hour, not including customer tips, according to an email sent to instructors this week. According to Beaver Creek’s website, a full-day private adult ski lesson will cost guests $885 this winter during peak season.
While instructors at nearby Vail Mountain have made no moves to unionize, they do maintain a Facebook page, “Fair Wages for Ski Instructors,” to advocate for higher pay.