Over the past couple of years, ski patrollers across the United States have been unionizing. Numerous ski patrols have unionized over the past few years, with patrols at Keystone and Solitude currently going through the unionization process. Today, ski patrollers at Palisades Tahoe announced that they have started the process towards unionization.

Over in Montana, ski patrollers at Whitefish Mountain Resort filed a petition a few weeks ago with the National Labor Relations Board to join the United Professional Ski Patrols of America/CWA.

But why are Whitefish patrollers trying to unionize? The reason for the move is on par with other ski patrollers who have joined unions: the pay is lackluster, prices in the local community are rising, and the risks in this position are plentiful.

The Daily Interlake interviewed David Kerner, who is paid $19.18. He explained the challenges that come with this position:

“It’s hard, at the end of the paycheck, to see what you’re left with. I’m stretched thin throughout the wintertime and then I have to make it all up in the summer. I take losses to do this job. But I love doing it...

The wear and tear of gear is another concern for David and other patrollers at Whitefish, as the lack of yearly gear allowance has kept him with the same skis and bindings for a while:

“I click into my skis when I have a patient in the toboggan and I’m thinking to myself, holy crap, man, I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve clicked in and out of these skis. I’m about to take someone in a toboggan — I’ve seen a runaway toboggan — that is the last thing I would ever want.”

Whitefish ski patrol’s base wage is $18 an hour. According to the Daily Interlake, some of their goals with unionization include “fair compensation, a yearly gear allowance, continuing education, as well as health care stipends and paid time off.” A major sticking point is a $750 gear allowance, which they get once every three seasons. The ski resort only gives them a jacket, with every other piece of gear coming out of their pockets. They would also like to see more assistance with ski patrol training seminars and other expenses.

Whitefish Mountain Resort, who was expected to respond to the petition by February 20th, issued the following statement to the Daily Inter Lake:

“We value our ski patrol and what it brings to our overall operation, and we intend to work to chart the best path forward.” 

You can read the Whitefish Professional Ski Patrol Association’s mission statement here.

Image Credits: Whitefish Ski Patrol (Featured Image), Whitefish Mountain Resort

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