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‘Fighting for a living wage’, Park City ski patrollers demand higher pay as cost of living rises

ski patrollers
Willie Maahs
Ski patrollers urge Vail resorts for a higher pay as the cost of living in Park City goes up.

Off duty ski patrollers gathered outside Park City Mountain Resort Sunday to demand higher wages amid the rising cost of living in the ski town.

The Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association represents almost 200 of them and mountain safety personnel who are employed by Vail Resorts. PCPSPA said they have had 42 bargaining sessions with the company since August 2020, about the starting wage per hour for new patrollers.

This summer, Vail and Deer Valley resorts announced they were increasing their starting pay for non-tipping employees to $15 amid the labor shortages that are being felt across Utah.

Patrick Murphy, business manager of the association and a ski patrol at Park City Mountain Resort, said they have skills which make their pay increase worth it.

He said their work varies from providing advanced medical response on the mountain to handling avalanche mitigation with explosives to accident investigations and lift evacuations.

“All of these different skills, it takes years on the job to develop expertise in all of those facets,” Murphy said. “It's not something where you can just plug someone in and have them be an expert on the mountain.”

Willie Maahs
Most ski patrollers aren't able to afford to live in Park City and have to commute into town.

He said ski patrollers are asking for higher wages because they currently aren’t “livable” and most employees can’t afford to live in town because of housing prices. The Park Record reported that affordable workforce housing in ski towns like Park City is a critical issue that’s only gotten worse over the years.

“We would love to all live in Park City, work in the city,” Murphy said, “but right now, as it is, we're not making enough money to afford reasonable rent in this town. That's forcing people into living elsewhere and [for] a lot of people it's forcing them to find other job opportunities because they can get paid more.”

In a statement sent to KUER, a representative from Park City Mountain Resort said they are continuing to bargain with the union and feel they are getting close to an agreement.

“We have listened closely to, and addressed, the key points our patrollers and the union have voiced over the past year, including wages, professional training opportunities, equipment reimbursements and sick time off,” the resort said.

Officials said they’ve “offered them a multi-year, comprehensive proposal that delivers wage increases to all returning patrollers and increased wage caps to allow more room for our most experienced patrollers to earn merit increases before hitting a pay ceiling.”

Resort officials said the agreement also offers parity to their locations in Colorado — if patrol wages increase there they will automatically match these wages in Utah without needing to negotiate.

But nothing has been finalized.

For now, ski patrollers who are returning to the resort will continue to operate under the terms of their previous contract until a new agreement is reached.

Ivana is a general assignment reporter
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