Western Ski Patrols Move to Unionize


Ski patrollers at Keystone Resort are part of a growing trend of Western Ski Patrols move to unionize this winter. At least four other resorts are also in the process of forming patrol unions.

On March 1, ninety-three Keystone patrollers filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a union election, as reported by Jason Blevins of the Colorado Sun. This marks their second attempt to unionize in the last three years, following a failed effort in 2021 by just one vote.

If the upcoming vote is successful, the Keystone Ski Patrol Union will become part of the Communication Workers of America (CWA) subdivision Local 7781. Notably, patrollers at Vail Resorts’ Breckenridge and Crested Butte resorts in Colorado, as well as Park City Mountain Resort in Utah, are already unionized.

Prior to the Keystone petition, 70 percent of ski patrollers at Alterra-owned Palisades Tahoe submitted a petition on Feb. 26 to the NLRB for a union election. Should this vote pass, the Palisades Tahoe Professional Patrol Association would join CWA Local 7781, marking the first unionized ski patrol in California.

Similarly, patrollers at fellow Alterra-owned resort Solitude Mountain, Utah, submitted a unionization petition on Feb. 14. Despite the patrollers’ request for voluntary recognition, resort officials rejected it, necessitating an NLRB-scheduled election.

In the same week, 77 percent of patrollers at Whitefish Mountain Resort, Montana, petitioned the NLRB to unionize. Although resort officials are still evaluating the implications, a spokesperson indicated they are beginning to assess the situation.

The process for unionization involves obtaining signatures from at least 30 percent of eligible staff, though the timeline for a vote can be protracted. For instance, patrollers at Powdr-owned Eldora Mountain, Colorado, filed a petition in October but are still awaiting an election date from the NLRB.

A recent change in labor law will expedite the process for forming a union chapter. Previously, employers had approximately two months to prepare after a petition was filed, but now they have just 10 days or less before the NLRB calls a hearing regarding the unionization vote.

Patrollers across these resorts have cited similar motivations for unionizing, including the pursuit of better pay, improved benefits, and safer working conditions. Cory Cavegan, a four-year patroller at Keystone, noted that collective bargaining has yielded positive outcomes at other resorts, indicating a desire for similar improvements at Keystone.

Source: SAM