Former Ski Patroller Reaches Settlement With Solitude Mountain Resort, UT, After Being Released

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Solitude Resort; picture: utah.com

Almost exactly one year ago, in the summer of 2021, Solitude made some significant changes, including the hiring of a new President and Chief Operating Officer (COO), Amber Broadaway. With the change in personnel, ski patrollers hoped it would also lead to a review and improvement of working conditions for patrollers and resort employees.

Kai Myers had been a patroller at Solitude for two years. Although he was not a seasoned veteran, he could recognize the flaws in the operation of the patroller program. Low wages, lack of overtime pay, and safety issues have often scared off quality patrollers after just a few seasons.

After talking with his managers and colleagues, Myers drafted a letter and launched a request for changes to the program. His goal was to improve working conditions and attract more long-term patrollers for the next season. His letter addressed the program’s flaws, primarily drawing attention to low pay, overtime pay, and lack of extra benefits. Myers added that the rapid turnover of patrollers from season to season could lead to safety issues for everyone. He then sent it to Broadaway for review.

A few weeks later, Myers’ supervisor called him. He had been let go. Asked about the terms of his release, management said it was due to performance issues. It wasn’t long after that Myers had received many compliments on his work and was even offered a job for the season.

Myers remained suspicious of the terms of his release, so he filed a complaint claiming he was released based on the letter he sent to Broadaway. After filing his complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), they began investigating his complaint and prepared a statement against the station. The statement proposed that Myers was fired for attempting to form a union, a protected action.

Earlier this month, a settlement between Myers and Solitude was reached. Although the details of the settlement will remain confidential, Myers was financially compensated by the station.

“While Solitude denies the allegations in the complaint filed by former ski patroller Kai Myers with the National Labor Relations Board,” Broadaway said, “we felt that a voluntary and mutually agreeable resolution was within the interest of all parties involved,” she said in a interview.

Ski Solitude Ski Patroller; picture: coolworks.com

In addition to compensating Myers, Solitude agreed to inform employees and patrollers of their protected right to work together as a union for employee benefits and protection. Currently, Solitude patrollers are not yet unionized.

Since the complaint, ski patrol salaries have been increased and overtime pay policies curtailed. Solitude has also agreed not to discriminate against hiring potential employees who have ideas that may challenge management on pay, safety protocols and other benefits.

Myers’ case is not the first of its kind and is certainly not an anomaly in the ski industry. Over the past season, industrial action has drawn attention to the rights of ski patrollers across the industry. Solitude’s neighboring resort, Park City Mountain Resort, is another resort to improve conditions for its patrollers after a few disputes. Last January, the Park City Ski Patrollers Union threatened to strike if Vail Resorts, owner of Park City, did not improve the wages and working conditions of its patrollers. An agreement was finally reached before a strike occurred.

With more attention being paid to the rights of ski patrollers, it is important that resorts recognize the skill that comes with the job by improving pay and working conditions. Without the skills of patrollers to manage the terrain and respond to emergencies, resorts could not operate at the level of security they currently provide.

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ski patrol; picture: istockphoto.com

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