Letter writer Ken Vagnini asked the community to “support Vail Resorts in these trying times.” I have a different perspective: Vail Resorts should support its employees and our community during these difficult times.
Vail Resorts, one of Summit County’s largest employers, earns millions from the blood, sweat and tears of the thousands of workers who make the daily operations of Breckenridge and Keystone ski resorts possible. Vail Resorts sold a record 2.1 million Epic passes this season. Vail Resorts annual gross profit for 2021 was $830 million, an increase of 6.96% over 2020. Despite these huge revenues, Vail Resorts has been unable to attract and retain talents to exploit its complexes. A quick search of Vail Resorts careers shows 186 open positions at Breckenridge and 169 at Keystone. In all, there are 934 open positions in Colorado.
Why can’t Vail find qualified employees? I have a few suspicions:
- Inadequate and below-market wages: Vail Resorts’ starting wage is $15 an hour. It is truly insulting to the human beings who carry out the day to day operations that are experienced by the millions of tourists who visit our community. Walmart, Target and Whole Foods all have higher starting salaries.
- Lack of Housing for Seasonal Workers: Vail Resorts does not provide adequate or clean housing for employees. Four adults crammed into a two-bedroom apartment is commonplace. There have been outbreaks of disease and bedbugs in employee quarters. It is a shame for the workers. The promise of baiting and changing accommodation for J1 visa holders is an entirely different tragedy.
- Oppressive Vaccination Mandates: Vaccination mandates have caused many long-serving employees to stay away and seek work elsewhere.
In short, instead of asking our community to support Wall Street’s multi-billion dollar corporation, let’s ask them to support our people and our community.