EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › General Skiing Discussion › Labor Board upholds firing of Aspen instructor
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Labor Board upholds firing of Aspen instructor - Page 2

post #31 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post

Were you being funny? I hope so. People seem to misunderstand what teaching skiing is about: 

 

Ski instructors don't get to free ski. The bulk of lessons are beginners or low intermediates - you're spending your days on the bunny hills unless you're a level 4. And even if you are a level 4, you're still mostly teaching upper intermediates. 

It's expensive and time consuming to become a ski instructor. I've spent several thousand already in certification and mandatory membership fees, and many thousand more in lessons, lift tickets, transportation etc just to learn how to ski well enough to instruct. It also took me several years of skiing to achieve my level 2. If I pass my 3 this year, it'll probably take another 10 years to get my level 4 (if I bother). 

Instructing is challenging. Not only do you need to be able to assess a skier within a few turns and identify a development plan immediately--you also have to motivate, energize, teach all the background info to make your development plan work, pick out terrain or work with the terrain you have, manage classes of all ages and sizes...

Instructors are still beholden to the trappings of any work environment. Actually, I'd say the standards are higher - you can't be late for ski school. You have to be well groomed. 

 

I left ski teaching after a year because I make five times as much in a comparably challenging job (project management for corporate learning initiatives). I love teaching friends to ski, and hopefully someday I'll get my level 4 and will be able to run my own private ski school. But the pay really is terrible when working for a ski school, and the general public's perception that ski instruction (or any sport instruction) isn't a real job doesn't help things. 

 

Also, I'm appalled that the instructor has been banned from skiing at any aspen area ski resorts--all because he did something the resort didn't like. I would understand a "mom and pa" shop not wanting him on the premises, but barring him from visiting ANY of the hills in the area because he publically disagrees with you? That strikes me as collusion to silence dissent.



No, I wasn't trying to be funny. You know going in what the pay is and you either take the job or look elsewhere.

In life, if you're going to bitch about something then be prepared to do something about it...or just grin and bear it.

 

You can say what you want, but sliding on snow is not a real job. The term is ski bum, for better or worse.

 

post #32 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by John J View Post

I've just never hear a complaint about pay structor from the many Aspen instructors I've had the pleasure of spending time with. 

 

 

    So, I wonder why.....?


Because if they did voice dissatisfaction they'd have been fired for doing so, apparently.

 

Let me get my bearings here: The instructor was not fired for bringing suit or for refusing to teach or any behavior while actually employed, Is that correct? I'm not sure I have this correctly but it appears that he was fired for speaking against their pay levels and handing out flyers finding fault with Aspen's pay schedule. It also appears that the NLRB sided with him on certain points.

 

Is this accurate? I suppose that, in most places, they were within their rights to fire him. Here in NH (Live Free or Die) an employer need not give any reason or show any cause for termination although I suppose if the employer did give a reason they might risk falling afoul of some state or federal law.   

 

Legality aside what really strikes me as obnoxious is the company's banning the guy from skiing at any of their resorts, even as a paying customer.  Effectively this amounts to ostracism from a company town. This really is offensive. They don't have to employ him but what is their basis for this kind of banishment? Does the company have other essentially political criteria for banishment in addition to a person's views upon unionization and compensation?

 

What if for example such a company owned the grocery stores and the housing and similarly banned a person from their establishments for what amounts to speech? Skiing being somewhat upon a level with eating and breathing with some of those here, well you can see where I'm going with this.

post #33 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by oisin View Post


Because if they did voice dissatisfaction they'd have been fired for doing so, apparently.

 

Let me get my bearings here: The instructor was not fired for bringing suit or for refusing to teach or any behavior while actually employed, Is that correct? I'm not sure I have this correctly but it appears that he was fired for speaking against their pay levels and handing out flyers finding fault with Aspen's pay schedule. It also appears that the NLRB sided with him on certain points.

 

Is this accurate? I suppose that, in most places, they were within their rights to fire him. Here in NH (Live Free or Die) an employer need not give any reason or show any cause for termination although I suppose if the employer did give a reason they might risk falling afoul of some state or federal law.   

 

Legality aside what really strikes me as obnoxious is the company's banning the guy from skiing at any of their resorts, even as a paying customer.  Effectively this amounts to ostracism from a company town. This really is offensive. They don't have to employ him but what is their basis for this kind of banishment? Does the company have other essentially political criteria for banishment in addition to a person's views upon unionization and compensation?

 

What if for example such a company owned the grocery stores and the housing and similarly banned a person from their establishments for what amounts to speech? Skiing being somewhat upon a level with eating and breathing with some of those here, well you can see where I'm going with this.


FWIW, it appears, that he was sort of demoted a year before he was fired.  I'm sure that we don't' know all the details, but I'm betting that there were other issues involved.

 

 

post #34 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rossi Smash View Post

In life, if you're going to bitch about something then be prepared to do something about it...or just grin and bear it.

 

You can say what you want, but sliding on snow is not a real job. The term is ski bum, for better or worse.

 


I find this comment really derogatory.   (I will ignore the obvious response to "In life, if you're going to bitch about something then be prepared to do something about it" -- apparently he WAS trying to do something about it!).

 

But the "sliding on snow is not a real job" comment is a low blow.  As Metaphor points out, ski instructors don't just "slide on snow" and live it up; they work hard -- often with difficult students and under difficult circumstances and only after they have sacrificed to get training and expertise.  Someone has to do it, and while I think an instructor should love it, that's not an excuse for resorts to exploit people.  This reminds me of the old rationale behind paying teachers or nurses less -- "they are people who want to do the job and therefore it's not a real job for them". 

 

As for the context and practicalities of the work itself....when I look at lawyers I know well, I often see them taking long lunches, simply talking on the phone, or confering with other lawyers.  Should I decide that's not a REAL job since they don't actually do physical work in a crappy environment?  How about other white-collar professionals?  Are you suggesting that if I work in a relatively pleasant environment teaching or coaching people to do something they enjoy, that's not a real job?  How about coaching basketball or football?  Or teaching auto mechanics or working as a mechanic on BMW's?  If I really love cars and I get to be around them all day, does that mean I'm not working?  

 

 

 

post #35 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by tch View Post

I find this comment really derogatory.   (I will ignore the obvious response to "In life, if you're going to bitch about something then be prepared to do something about it" -- apparently he WAS trying to do something about it!).

 

But the "sliding on snow is not a real job" comment is a low blow.  As Metaphor points out, ski instructors don't just "slide on snow" and live it up; they work hard -- often with difficult students and under difficult circumstances and only after they have sacrificed to get training and expertise.  Someone has to do it, and while I think an instructor should love it, that's not an excuse for resorts to exploit people.  This reminds me of the old rationale behind paying teachers or nurses less -- "they are people who want to do the job and therefore it's not a real job for them". 

 

As for the context and practicalities of the work itself....when I look at lawyers I know well, I often see them taking long lunches, simply talking on the phone, or confering with other lawyers.  Should I decide that's not a REAL job since they don't actually do physical work in a crappy environment?  How about other white-collar professionals?  Are you suggesting that if I work in a relatively pleasant environment teaching or coaching people to do something they enjoy, that's not a real job?  How about coaching basketball or football?  Or teaching auto mechanics or working as a mechanic on BMW's?  If I really love cars and I get to be around them all day, does that mean I'm not working?  

 

 

 



Oh well....

 

If you consider it a real job, great.

 

 

 

post #36 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rossi Smash View Post



Oh well....

 

If you consider it a real job, great.

 

 

 


FWIW, I think it is a real job, but its a job of choice, and those who are career ski instructors choose that career with their eyes wide open.

 

If you (general you not you you) choose to be a sewage pumper, cashier, waitress, mechanic, nurse, or elevator operator, you know the pay scale, promotion possibilities, and pitfalls of the job.

 

If you are a ski instructor at Aspen Mountain you are aware of their pay scale and such before you take the job.  If you don't like it, then you take it up with the proper officials.  You Don't EVER complain to the clients.  That's not cool!

 

 

post #37 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by oisin View Post

 

Legality aside what really strikes me as obnoxious is the company's banning the guy from skiing at any of their resorts, even as a paying customer.  Effectively this amounts to ostracism from a company town. This really is offensive. They don't have to employ him but what is their basis for this kind of banishment? Does the company have other essentially political criteria for banishment in addition to a person's views upon unionization and compensation?


Does strike me somewhat as a modern day equivalent of an axe handle upside the head. 

 

If I may succinctly summarize Dorworth's piece which I mentioned above, he posits that ski resorts could pay instructors more and charge customers less and still make a reasonable profit. I wouldn't know, but he might, given that he was once the Director of the Ski School at Aspen.

 

As I understand it he left or was forced out twenty or so years ago over these very issues. I'm sure there are people here who know what's what and could comment, but it doesn't surprise me they haven't, as those philosophically aligned with Dorworth would seem to have valid reason to worry about an axe handle getting cozy with their own heads, and thems on the other side, well, there's no benefit to them or their masters in continuing to shine a light on this topic.

 

Another one of the world's oldest stories, oft repeated.

post #38 of 44

Is ski instructing a real job? Well yes. You have set hours, assigned duties, stress, performance expectations, and all the other types of things you have in any other work environment. It is most definitely a real job when you are full time and you are depending on that job to make a living at least part of the year. Is it more enjoyable that many other jobs? Absolutely. If you are a part timer, it isn't quite as much of a real job. If you don't depend on the money, it's more of something you do for fun, because you enjoy it. Just because I enjoy the job, doesn't mean that it's easy work either. Maybe we screw ourselves by being willing to work for peanuts, but it is what it is.

 

I think what many people need to do in this situation is look at the bigger picture of mountain operations. 40 years ago, an instructor typically made half of the fee for a private lesson. But 40 years ago, the overhead of running a ski resort was only a fraction of what it is now. Those fantastic high speed lifts, and super high tech snowmaking systems, not to mention the luxurious lodges and other amenities? They cost money. A crapton of money. And all that needs to be paid for somehow. What are the revenue streams for a ski area? Really, there aren't all that many. Lift tickets, lessons, rentals, and food are the four that are common to every area. Destination resorts also have lodging as a revenue stream. So when somebody pays $700 for a full day private, he's not only paying my wage for the day, he's also helping to pay the liftie that's running the lift we are using, the patroller who is keeping us safe, the groomers, the maintenance team... not to mention paying the huge bill for those lifts, that Pisten Bully, the new snowmaking system that lets us ski from November to April or May. So while we don't make as much as we once did, it's not like all that money is going into the owner's pocket.

 

This is from somebody who has worked at multiple ski areas as a full time instructor, a part time instructor, and as a ski school supervisor.

post #39 of 44

 Yes ski instructors, liftees, patrol, avlie personnel and other on mountain staff will likely continue to work for peanuts for increasingly bigger resorts. It is not that their job does not have significant value (we all know it does) but there is always next years  crop of wannabes  who will fill any vacancy and do it cheap to supplement their skiing. The resorts all rely on this. Some of my friends still working on the hills like to think they are living a daily life that people have to take vacations to copy. In some ways they are right.  But after the initial excitement of working at a resort fades in comparison to the dollars coming in most move on. It hasn't changed since the days I first considered it. But I do find it strange that this thread has such a big difference in attitude in the posts compared to the situation at Sunshine.    

  

post #40 of 44
Quote:

Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post

 

You Don't EVER complain to the clients.  That's not cool!


What's cool got to do with it? This is people's livelihood being discussed.

 

Don't ever complain to the wrong clients. The right clients, in this case wealthy/powerful resort patrons with a lefty bent, inclined to be sympathetic to the plight of the workers, might just provide the best leverage to bring the particulars out into the open and shame the resort into a more equitable pay structure.

 

Caveat: I'm not a ski instructor, and I have no personal knowledge of how Aspen or any other resort really treats/compensates their employees. However, general dynamics being what they are, they probably apply in this situation as well. 
post #41 of 44

I'd like to start by saying how shocked the general public is to find out that instructors make so little from the private lessons. During an orientation session years ago, an ops manager justified the $600+ price on privates by saying "If you feel you're worth $600/day, you're worth $600/day." Clearly some of the public perceives the instructor's value is $600/day, but the resort's only paying $70. It makes me think of a house going on sale at $100k, then a flipper driving the seller down to 90K, adding some marble countertops, and flipping it at $250k. Basically a middleman skimming off the top without adding significant value. 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rossi Smash View Post

No, I wasn't trying to be funny. You know going in what the pay is and you either take the job or look elsewhere.

In life, if you're going to bitch about something then be prepared to do something about it...or just grin and bear it.


"Doing something about it" can mean one of two things. If instructors leave, resorts and customers lose access to talented, skilled pools of instructors who leave for far better paying positions in the corporate world. In this particular instance, to your point, the fellow was prepared to do something about it - ie organize a union - and he was banned from all area resorts. (I assume your response will be along the lines of "shrug shrug"--but I believe in a more socialistic society where we work towards everyone's best interests, rather than glorifying the interests of big business.)

 

 

Quote:
You can say what you want, but sliding on snow is not a real job. The term is ski bum, for better or worse.

 

I think you're begging the question here. How did you determine for a fact that ski instruction isn't a real job? How do you refute instructors' evidence to the contrary? Or are you ignoring information that doesn't support your perspective? Have you simply had poor experiences in lessons and generalized your findings to the entire role of a ski instructor? 

 

Ski instruction is a microcosm of the real world. Just as you see Bob slacking off at the water cooler five hours of the day, or Tina spending her afternoons on Farmville/Facebook, or Andy the boss browsing porn at their "real jobs", you've got both hard workers and deadbeats at ski hills. 

 

Finally, here are some definitions of "job". You'll find that "ski instructor" meets the second definition. Let me know if you need any more assistance.

 

 

job

1   [job] dictionary_questionbutton_default.gif Show IPA noun, verb, jobbed, job·bing,adjective
noun
1.
a piece of work, especially a specific task done as part ofthe routine of one's occupation or for an agreed price: Shegave him the job of mowing the lawn.
2.
a post of employment; full-time or part-time position: Shewas seeking a job as an editor.
3.
anything a person is expected or obliged to do; duty;responsibility: It is your job to be on time.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post


FWIW, I think it is a real job, but its a job of choice, and those who are career ski instructors choose that career with their eyes wide open.

 

If you (general you not you you) choose to be a sewage pumper, cashier, waitress, mechanic, nurse, or elevator operator, you know the pay scale, promotion possibilities, and pitfalls of the job.

 

If you are a ski instructor at Aspen Mountain you are aware of their pay scale and such before you take the job.  If you don't like it, then you take it up with the proper officials.  You Don't EVER complain to the clients.  That's not cool!

 

Regarding the first half: That's all well and good if the world is happy with a slide towards mediocrity in instruction. Yes, there are outliers who love their job regardless of compensation and will put up with earning peanuts. That said, I personally know droves of instructors who were heading down the path towards becoming really good instructors, and they simply couldn't stay in the role due to the poor pay. My honest concern is that if the current trend continues, high-end instruction will be taught by a few instructor-only clinicians, private "vigilante" instructors (how scary!), retirees, and masochists. Even today, I recommend strong intermediates become instructors simply to gain easy access to higher level instructors. (In my opinion, a strong intermediate is a consolidation-level skier, ie level 2 instructor calibre). Otherwise, if you simply walk up to the ski school and ask for a group lesson, you're probably getting an instructor less skilled than you. (At least, that's the situation in Vancouver - most instructors are 1s and 2s. I'm not aware of any full time 4s available at the schools here.) I can't see this trend reversing in the race to the bottom wage. 

 

Regarding the second half: I'm not sure where the argument is... On the one hand you're arguing that instructors know the terms and conditions before they choose their job, so they have no grounds to complain. On the other hand, you're arguing that instructors should complain to officials. I'm confused--I can't tell whether or not you think instructors should be allowed to complain. On a related note, a certain gigantic resort has its wage document online. It's not exactly private info.

 

 

 

Quote:
Freeski919 said:
 
I think what many people need to do in this situation is look at the bigger picture of mountain operations. 40 years ago, an instructor typically made half of the fee for a private lesson. But 40 years ago, the overhead of running a ski resort was only a fraction of what it is now. Those fantastic high speed lifts, and super high tech snowmaking systems, not to mention the luxurious lodges and other amenities? They cost money. A crapton of money. And all that needs to be paid for somehow. 

 

I'm not sure where the idea started that it's reasonable for the education centre to be a profit centre. But here are some strategies to address profitability:

 

Let's see more grooming rotation. Let's see more efficient lodges. Why is there a need for 40' ceilings? Why is there a need for a cable car monstrosity to hang between two mountains? Let's see the mountain operations decoupled from real estate. That way the mountain can focus on the snow experience. 

 

Hills could also increase revenue by bringing in more lessons--ironically by paying their instructors more! If instructors are paid better for higher certification (I mean significantly better--ie double the pay, so $40/hr for a CSIA level 4), I predict a chain of events would take place: More instructors will push themselves to advance their certifications. Clients will get better lessons, achieve more results, and feel more satisfied. As a consequence of increased customer satisfaction, clients will take more lessons and recommend the ski school to more friends. Overall sales will actually increase through empowering our customers -- all thanks to better instruction. Let's consider two scenarios: the current situation, versus a situation where higher level certs are paid more. 

 

In the first scenario, the resort sells 1000 lessons at $600 each over a period. That's $600,000 gross. They have mostly level 2s and 3s, and pay an average of $15/hr to their instructors (somewhere between l2 and l3 pay). That's $90/lesson, so $90,000 in wages. The resort nets $510,000 profit from lessons. 

 

In the second scenario, the resort has hired mostly level 4s. Because clients get better results faster from these pros, the resort sells an extra 50% the volume of lessons. So it sells 1500 lessons at $600. 900,000 gross. The level 4s get paid at $40/hr, or $240/lesson, so 360,000 in wages. The resort profits by $540,000, PLUS they've sold lift tickets for those lesson days, PLUS food, PLUS the spa, massage and aroma-hydrotherapy-mudbath-cucumber-sawdust treatments. It seems like a win-win situation to me.

post #42 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post


I'd like to start by saying how shocked the general public is to find out that instructors make so little from the private lessons. During an orientation session years ago, an ops manager justified the $600+ price on privates by saying "If you feel you're worth $600/day, you're worth $600/day." Clearly some of the public perceives the instructor's value is $600/day, but the resort's only paying $70. It makes me think of a house going on sale at $100k, then a flipper driving the seller down to 90K, adding some marble countertops, and flipping it at $250k. Basically a middleman skimming off the top without adding significant value."Doing something about it" can mean one of two things. If instructors leave, resorts and customers lose access to talented, skilled pools of instructors who leave for far better paying positions in the corporate world. In this particular instance, to your point, the fellow was prepared to do something about it - ie organize a union - and he was banned from all area resorts. (I assume your response will be along the lines of "shrug shrug"--but I believe in a more socialistic society where we work towards everyone's best interests, rather than glorifying the interests of big business.)

 

 

 

I think you're begging the question here. How did you determine for a fact that ski instruction isn't a real job? How do you refute instructors' evidence to the contrary? Or are you ignoring information that doesn't support your perspective? Have you simply had poor experiences in lessons and generalized your findings to the entire role of a ski instructor? 

 

Ski instruction is a microcosm of the real world. Just as you see Bob slacking off at the water cooler five hours of the day, or Tina spending her afternoons on Farmville/Facebook, or Andy the boss browsing porn at their "real jobs", you've got both hard workers and deadbeats at ski hills. 

 

Finally, here are some definitions of "job". You'll find that "ski instructor" meets the second definition. Let me know if you need any more assistance.

 

 

job

1   [job] dictionary_questionbutton_default.gif Show IPA noun, verb, jobbed, job·bing,adjective
noun
1.
a piece of work, especially a specific task done as part ofthe routine of one's occupation or for an agreed price: Shegave him the job of mowing the lawn.
2.
a post of employment; full-time or part-time position: Shewas seeking a job as an editor.
3.
anything a person is expected or obliged to do; duty;responsibility: It is your job to be on time.

 

 

Regarding the first half: That's all well and good if the world is happy with a slide towards mediocrity in instruction. Yes, there are outliers who love their job regardless of compensation and will put up with earning peanuts. That said, I personally know droves of instructors who were heading down the path towards becoming really good instructors, and they simply couldn't stay in the role due to the poor pay. My honest concern is that if the current trend continues, high-end instruction will be taught by a few instructor-only clinicians, private "vigilante" instructors (how scary!), retirees, and masochists. Even today, I recommend strong intermediates become instructors simply to gain easy access to higher level instructors. (In my opinion, a strong intermediate is a consolidation-level skier, ie level 2 instructor calibre). Otherwise, if you simply walk up to the ski school and ask for a group lesson, you're probably getting an instructor less skilled than you. (At least, that's the situation in Vancouver - most instructors are 1s and 2s. I'm not aware of any full time 4s available at the schools here.) I can't see this trend reversing in the race to the bottom wage. 

 

Regarding the second half: I'm not sure where the argument is... On the one hand you're arguing that instructors know the terms and conditions before they choose their job, so they have no grounds to complain. On the other hand, you're arguing that instructors should complain to officials. I'm confused--I can't tell whether or not you think instructors should be allowed to complain. On a related note, a certain gigantic resort has its wage document online. It's not exactly private info.

 

 

 

 

I'm not sure where the idea started that it's reasonable for the education centre to be a profit centre. But here are some strategies to address profitability:

 

Let's see more grooming rotation. Let's see more efficient lodges. Why is there a need for 40' ceilings? Why is there a need for a cable car monstrosity to hang between two mountains? Let's see the mountain operations decoupled from real estate. That way the mountain can focus on the snow experience. 

 

Hills could also increase revenue by bringing in more lessons--ironically by paying their instructors more! If instructors are paid better for higher certification (I mean significantly better--ie double the pay, so $40/hr for a CSIA level 4), I predict a chain of events would take place: More instructors will push themselves to advance their certifications. Clients will get better lessons, achieve more results, and feel more satisfied. As a consequence of increased customer satisfaction, clients will take more lessons and recommend the ski school to more friends. Overall sales will actually increase through empowering our customers -- all thanks to better instruction. Let's consider two scenarios: the current situation, versus a situation where higher level certs are paid more. 

 

In the first scenario, the resort sells 1000 lessons at $600 each over a period. That's $600,000 gross. They have mostly level 2s and 3s, and pay an average of $15/hr to their instructors (somewhere between l2 and l3 pay). That's $90/lesson, so $90,000 in wages. The resort nets $510,000 profit from lessons. 

 

In the second scenario, the resort has hired mostly level 4s. Because clients get better results faster from these pros, the resort sells an extra 50% the volume of lessons. So it sells 1500 lessons at $600. 900,000 gross. The level 4s get paid at $40/hr, or $240/lesson, so 360,000 in wages. The resort profits by $540,000, PLUS they've sold lift tickets for those lesson days, PLUS food, PLUS the spa, massage and aroma-hydrotherapy-mudbath-cucumber-sawdust treatments. It seems like a win-win situation to me.



I personally would not pay a third of that for a lesson. Folks can make up their own minds as to how they value it. Either way, the instructor will see little of the actual charge.

 

"I believe in a more socialistic society".... I could just stop here, as I do not. Actually, can we go back in the other direction please?!

 

As for "real job", justify it however you like. Outside of a small percengate of actual skiers, I can garantee that most people  asked if it is a real job would simply laugh....

 

post #43 of 44

I'm sorry I haven't read every post, but it seems to me that one shouldn't be surprised if one works at a place that charges clients a ton of money for a product and pays the staff that delivers the product diddly squat because they can, starts circulating e-mails about forming a union, exposing the practice to the clients and trying to change the pay structure, and then gets fired.  It's like what happens in Quebec when Mc D employees try to form a union.  Good companies avoid unionizing by treating their employees fairly, others do what they can get away with.

post #44 of 44

I am all for instructors getting a higher percentage of the lesson cost.  However your math is flawed.  As an employer, I can tell you that it costs me about 30% above the wage of an employee to legally employ that person and that's just in payroll cost, it doesn't take other overhead into account.  So a $15/hr employee actually costs me a solid $20/hr in payroll costs.  If a $15/hr guy isn't generating at least $30/hr, I'm losing money.  Also it could be argued that the SS draws from people who are already at the resort and those people would by lift tickets and food even if they didn't take a lesson.  My contracting model is a bit different from the SS model in that the time to complete my job is estimated and the time of the ski lesson is fixed.  I can start losing money on jobs fast when they go over time and most of the employees I've had don't get the fact that my overhead is not limited to the wage they "see" in their check.  I truly believe that there is some truth to the big picture argument that management puts out to justify making so much profit on my time.  I can also say that in a group lesson situation the SS isn't making any significant money unless I have three students in my group.  The Mountain X product line that I mostly work in has a top class size of 4.  I have taught plenty of group lessons with one or two students because my supervisor wanted to keep me working and it was the right thing to do for the student based on the split at line-up.  It makes me happy that we put out a better lesson by keeping the class size smaller and the split narrower even though it affects the bottom line.  That only remains possible if the slack is getting taken up somewhere else.  Private lessons cost about $650 for a 7hr lesson.  That's a lot for one person, but not so bad when split 4 or 5 ways. 

 

I don't want to get into what I am paid, but I will say that the resort doesn't cover the cost of my wage much less the overhead of the supervisor by sending me out with one group lesson student and barely covers the true costs with two students.  I am also pretty impressed with the effort that the SS has expended on getting our wages up based on certification and experience.  There is a clear outline of how raises are earned and a guy like me can look at that and see what I need to do to get where I want to be.  In five full time seasons I have clawed my way up the pay scale and am now making pretty decent money when I work.  I will likely bump up two more levels this season.  The ski school pays me about as well as I would pay an experienced painter on my crew.  The main difference is that I only get paid when I work and that work is seldom a given.  I have to show up every day and there is not always a group for me.  My paid day is also limited to 3-7.5/hrs and in the contracting world, my people would have longer days and more consistent work.  If I get tips from my students and I usually do, my earnings start to feel pretty good.  I have covered all of my winter bills for several seasons working exclusively for the ski school.  I work the system hard and my personal overhead is small, but it can be done and my situation gets better every year.  

 

Last year I got paid for 460 hours of lessons and about 24 hours of training.  I logged about 120 training hours.  A lot of that was in-house, some of it I paid for, and a smaller portion of it I got paid to attend.  My point is that I work very hard to be the best instructor that I can be.  I am several orders of magnitude better that I was when I started.  I was decent enough at the beginning, but to get where I am now took a lot of effort, expense, and focus on my part.  The idea that this isn't a "real" job is ridiculous and a more than a bit insulting to me.  The SS is very much my "real" job.  It is not my hobby.  I pay the bills teaching skiing and that is all I do full time for 1/3 of the year.  I would have to say that there are some instructors out there that make the rest of us look bad, just like there are slackers at any job place.  I don't really know who they are these days as I have earned a position teaching upper level lessons and everyone I work with is really good.  It pushes me to bring it everyday just standing at line up with that group of people.  It is sad that I hear so many stories about bad lessons.  There is a lot of truth to the idea that there won't be qualified instructors if they can't stay in the system long enough to develop.  I can only guess at how much I will improve over this season and the next.  I think it will be significant.  The senior instructors that I work with say that it generally takes five years of full time work to get "good" at ski instruction.  Starting my 6th year, I would agree with that more than I would have starting my 3rd year.  I thought I was pretty good my first year, I am so much better now that there is no real way to compare it and I almost feel bad for the students I had my first year.  I don't feel too bad, because I honestly gave them my best at the time and they left satisfied.    

 

I would also comment that my job is not "sliding around on snow".  My" job" is looking out for the safety and well being of those in my group.  I am well aware that they pay a lot for my time and I work hard to deliver the value and exceed their expectations.  My day at work is about them and what they want/need.  It's never about me and it is mentally tiring to spend the whole day focusing on giving to other people.  I teach on black and double black terrain almost everyday and I love doing it, but it is not even close to free-skiing.  I feel the responsibility acutely.  There is always the potential for injury out there.  It is critical that I accurately match my students abilities to the terrain that I expose them to, regardless of where I want to ski that day or what they "say" they want.  Would anyone really want an instructor that wasn't very experienced and well trained guiding them or their children into advanced terrain that has real consequences?  There are very few 20 somethings that show the kind of judgment that I'm looking for in an upper level instructor.  It takes more than skiing chops.  It's maturity and teaching experience that doesn't just come....  It takes time to nurture and develop.

 

I agree with TrekChick....  It is inappropriate to discuss wages and such with the guests.  I did one time with a guest who specifically asked about it and got nailed because one of the other guests complained about it to the SSD.  I heard about it and got off that one time with a rather mild warning.  In retrospect it was a good lesson for me.  A few weeks later I had one of the resorts "secret shoppers" in my group and redeemed myself.  The report that got turned in specifically described me and my lesson in glowing terms.  I have repeatedly found that the more professionally I conduct myself, the better I listen to my guests, and the better the lesson content is, the better my tips are at the end of the day.  There are lots of ways that people will sleaze for tips and I used some of them early in my career.  My experience is that it makes you look unprofessional and desperate and doesn't help.  Do your job well, deliver the value, exceed expectations, listen to your guests, and most guests will happily tip you.

 

I suspect that the instructor who got fired at Aspen had other issues that led to his dismissal.  I wouldn't tolerate an employee of mine randomly handing out flyers on a job site or making an end run around me to a home owner or general contractor about their wage.  I also wouldn't tolerate an employee trying to get side work from one of my clients.  That's why I will never teach a lesson off the books.  I have been asked to do that plenty of times.  There are ways to get what you want.  You may not always be successful, but I think this guy was going about it the wrong way and probably deserved to be fired even if there weren't other issues in play.  I work at the MSS because I want to and I do know what my "deal" is.  I also know what I can do to improve my deal.  If I don't agree with the terms of employment or my deal isn't sweet enough, no one is forcing me to work.  Every year I am getting harder to replace, but there is no lack of people applying for my job who won't get hired because they isn't enough lesson volume to support a larger staff.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post


"Doing something about it" can mean one of two things. If instructors leave, resorts and customers lose access to talented, skilled pools of instructors who leave for far better paying positions in the corporate world. In this particular instance, to your point, the fellow was prepared to do something about it - ie organize a union - and he was banned from all area resorts. (I assume your response will be along the lines of "shrug shrug"--but I believe in a more socialistic society where we work towards everyone's best interests, rather than glorifying the interests of big business.)

 

 

 

I think you're begging the question here. How did you determine for a fact that ski instruction isn't a real job? How do you refute instructors' evidence to the contrary? Or are you ignoring information that doesn't support your perspective? Have you simply had poor experiences in lessons and generalized your findings to the entire role of a ski instructor? 

 

Ski instruction is a microcosm of the real world. Just as you see Bob slacking off at the water cooler five hours of the day, or Tina spending her afternoons on Farmville/Facebook, or Andy the boss browsing porn at their "real jobs", you've got both hard workers and deadbeats at ski hills. 

 

Finally, here are some definitions of "job". You'll find that "ski instructor" meets the second definition. Let me know if you need any more assistance.

 

 

job

1   [job] dictionary_questionbutton_default.gif Show IPA noun, verb, jobbed, job·bing,adjective
noun
1.
a piece of work, especially a specific task done as part ofthe routine of one's occupation or for an agreed price: Shegave him the job of mowing the lawn.
2.
a post of employment; full-time or part-time position: Shewas seeking a job as an editor.
3.
anything a person is expected or obliged to do; duty;responsibility: It is your job to be on time.

 

 

Regarding the first half: That's all well and good if the world is happy with a slide towards mediocrity in instruction. Yes, there are outliers who love their job regardless of compensation and will put up with earning peanuts. That said, I personally know droves of instructors who were heading down the path towards becoming really good instructors, and they simply couldn't stay in the role due to the poor pay. My honest concern is that if the current trend continues, high-end instruction will be taught by a few instructor-only clinicians, private "vigilante" instructors (how scary!), retirees, and masochists. Even today, I recommend strong intermediates become instructors simply to gain easy access to higher level instructors. (In my opinion, a strong intermediate is a consolidation-level skier, ie level 2 instructor calibre). Otherwise, if you simply walk up to the ski school and ask for a group lesson, you're probably getting an instructor less skilled than you. (At least, that's the situation in Vancouver - most instructors are 1s and 2s. I'm not aware of any full time 4s available at the schools here.) I can't see this trend reversing in the race to the bottom wage. 

 

Regarding the second half: I'm not sure where the argument is... On the one hand you're arguing that instructors know the terms and conditions before they choose their job, so they have no grounds to complain. On the other hand, you're arguing that instructors should complain to officials. I'm confused--I can't tell whether or not you think instructors should be allowed to complain. On a related note, a certain gigantic resort has its wage document online. It's not exactly private info.

 

 

 

 

I'm not sure where the idea started that it's reasonable for the education centre to be a profit centre. But here are some strategies to address profitability:

 

Let's see more grooming rotation. Let's see more efficient lodges. Why is there a need for 40' ceilings? Why is there a need for a cable car monstrosity to hang between two mountains? Let's see the mountain operations decoupled from real estate. That way the mountain can focus on the snow experience. 

 

Hills could also increase revenue by bringing in more lessons--ironically by paying their instructors more! If instructors are paid better for higher certification (I mean significantly better--ie double the pay, so $40/hr for a CSIA level 4), I predict a chain of events would take place: More instructors will push themselves to advance their certifications. Clients will get better lessons, achieve more results, and feel more satisfied. As a consequence of increased customer satisfaction, clients will take more lessons and recommend the ski school to more friends. Overall sales will actually increase through empowering our customers -- all thanks to better instruction. Let's consider two scenarios: the current situation, versus a situation where higher level certs are paid more. 

 

In the first scenario, the resort sells 1000 lessons at $600 each over a period. That's $600,000 gross. They have mostly level 2s and 3s, and pay an average of $15/hr to their instructors (somewhere between l2 and l3 pay). That's $90/lesson, so $90,000 in wages. The resort nets $510,000 profit from lessons. 

 

In the second scenario, the resort has hired mostly level 4s. Because clients get better results faster from these pros, the resort sells an extra 50% the volume of lessons. So it sells 1500 lessons at $600. 900,000 gross. The level 4s get paid at $40/hr, or $240/lesson, so 360,000 in wages. The resort profits by $540,000, PLUS they've sold lift tickets for those lesson days, PLUS food, PLUS the spa, massage and aroma-hydrotherapy-mudbath-cucumber-sawdust treatments. It seems like a win-win situation to me.



 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Skiing Discussion
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › General Skiing Discussion › Labor Board upholds firing of Aspen instructor