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Would Better Wages = Better Ski Instruction? Telluride Ski Patrol Unionizes, Are Ski Instructors Next? - Page 7

post #181 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post


Good luck with that at places with serious terrain and programs focused on skiing it both well and safely.

I think Whiteface Mountain would be a perfect example of a mountain where most of the instructors in the kids lessons are scabs. Whiteface being a mountain who has head-walls on most the green trails and more eastern hardpack(ice) than snow emphasizes safety while skiing on touch terrain. I did a ton of lessons on the mountain's blues and blacks that focused solely on skiing in a safe controlled effective manner. So your statement about Scabs not being able to teach people how to ski on serious terrain is false. 

post #182 of 205

its actually worse, 9.43 is what level 1 instructors are paid per hour. I think the highest pay rate is 14 dollars if you are level 3. I barely get any single privates since they are assigned by either reservations or the supervisors and the kids lessons i teach prevent me from doing them. In the mornings I usually have to watch all the kids in ski school and try to keep them entertained. I am honestly considering going to work at a vermont mountain next year. 

post #183 of 205
  • Average babysitter wages have increased by 28 per cent in the last 5 years
  • Care.com survey reveals the average pay rate is now $13.44 an hour 
post #184 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by brenster21 View Post

I think Whiteface Mountain would be a perfect example of a mountain where most of the instructors in the kids lessons are scabs. Whiteface being a mountain who has head-walls on most the green trails and more eastern hardpack(ice) than snow emphasizes safety while skiing on touch terrain. I did a ton of lessons on the mountain's blues and blacks that focused solely on skiing in a safe controlled effective manner. So your statement about Scabs not being able to teach people how to ski on serious terrain is false. 

I'm not sure if someone can be a 'scab' In the current environment. And without familiarity with our mountain and programs, I don't know how you could label my assertion as 'false'. As long as one is hired by a ski school, one isn't a scab... Now to safety... I've never skied Whiteface, so I don't know what the situation is there, but I doubt your school will hire someone with no experience to coach skiing in your more difficult terrain. We have a similar situation as you where almost all of our green and blue terrain has rollovers, etc... That are a step above the given rating. I was at Boyne Mountain Mi a few weeks ago, and their single 'double black' is identical in pitch to a portion of one of our steep blue runs. The issue we have is a great deal of our 'named' terrain is labelled by general area. We have cliffs, tree wells, potential inbounds avy terrain, areas where falls equal long slides, and areas where navigation/guiding can be tricky, and highly variable snow conditions day to day, pitch to pitch, exposure to exposure.

Some of our programs we run each group with two coaches. In all of those programs the vast majority of the coaches are L3's and a few very experienced L2's. One exception is Ingrid Backstrom, but she knows a thing or two about getting safely around the mountain and coaching. Someone without prior experience, and a good amount of it, could not walk in off the street, fill the roll of coach/instructor, and keep the groups safe. A qualified new hire would spend a couple of seasons as a tail gunner for a lead instructor simply to learn the mountain. I'm sure the situation is the same at Jackson and other areas known for steep terrain. in the end, if the mountain fired us all tomorrow, it would be nearly impossible to immediately replace us.
Edited by markojp - 3/27/15 at 6:05am
post #185 of 205
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by brenster21 View Post
 

Well, at the resort I work at I get a about 40 percent commission rate for privates and 9.43 an hour as a level 1 instructor (part time but pay rate is the same either way). I personally wouldn't mind a lower commission if it meant getting a higher hourly pay. 

At Vail, cert 1s get $10.95/hr to start and all Instructors get an extra $6/hr for request privates (which = $39 on a full day lesson that costs $850+ or an extra $19.50 on a half day lesson that costs $625+, so a commission rate of less than 4 to 5%).  Breck and Copper pay similar hourly with request privates paying 150% of your teaching rate- this works out better for instructors with a teaching rate above $12/hr but worse for the newbies.  

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyingFish View Post
 

At the dinky resort I work at, the commission rate is 25% of the cost of the lesson, plus your hourly. However... that's all dependent on them being able accommodate the requests. And instructors who find themselves booked in on kids camps for the whole season, often can't get their schedules freed up to accommodate their requests. So it ends up being a moot point. 

 

At Whistler, the pay scale is a convoluted byzantine schematic that I do not understand. 

 

But a base rate of 9.43? That is just brutal. 

I'm a Cert 2 and teach a good % of request privates- getting $9.43/hr plus 25% of the cost of my lessons would mean A HUGE PAY RAISE for me (even factoring in the times I have not been able to do requests because of kids program commitments).

 

 

Resorts like Copper & Breck have something like 25% instructor turnover each year with both resorts hiring and training lots of full time instructors with NO TEACHING EXPERIENCE each November/December.  As one Vail trainer said with a sheepish grin, see all those guys over there doing inexperienced new hire training, they'll be teaching clients next week.  IMO, Vail does a lot better job than many CO resorts with their new hire training- I know of one I-70 mountain that typically has two weekends of training before turning their inexperienced new hires loose on the public, but has had to condense it into 2 days due to poor weather some seasons.  

 

Is 2 to 10 days training enough for an inexperienced new hire to be able to competently teach never-evers how to ski?  Maybe, but why do 83 percent of first-time skiers and snowboarders never return to the slopes for a second visit according to the National Ski Areas Association?

 

Overall, I think most ski instructors love the sport and do their best to deliver a good lesson but feel a higher percentage of younger instructors would stick with teaching if compensation was increased.  I realize that some resorts don't have the clientele to be able to pay more, but think that the big destination resorts could increase the overall experience and certification level of their instructors (and reduce their new hire training costs) if they adopted a compensation model similar to Aspen/Snowmass (or the 25 to 40% commission models mentioned above). 

post #186 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
 


Just starting into the thread.  Apologies if it has already been said.  You are absolutely correct, the resort ski school, as the seller, should get to keep 10 to 20% commision and the ski instructor should get 80%. 

 

I love it, it's beyond comical. 

80% commission rates for an employee? Largely an unskilled, seasonal, part time employee? Get up on that pedestal. 

Try to pass the bong next time. 

post #187 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by COBillsFan View Post
 

 

I love it, it's beyond comical. 

80% commission rates for an employee? Largely an unskilled, seasonal, part time employee? Get up on that pedestal. 

Try to pass the bong next time. 


If the resort is able to charge that much money for a lesson what % of the contribution does the resort produce for the actual lesson versus the person teaching the actual lesson?  If the instructors sucked that bad and were McEmployees that can be replaced very easily than how does the market continue to command such high prices?  With liftees and rental shop there are other tangible products being delivered, not so with ski instruction.

 

Still, 80% is ridiculous, overhead alone justifies them keeping at least 50%.

post #188 of 205

Yeah, an 80-20 split would be quite out of synch with typical labor markups.  A broad rule of thumb is an employer needs to bill at about twice the hourly rate to cover overhead, benefits, social security, insurance, etc. There's a lot of variation to be sure (when I freelance they mark-up my hourly rate  by about 25%, but the company is making money on things other than just labor - I also don't work cheap) but 50-50 is  what's the norm.

 

The 2000% markup (Vail charges over $200/hr and pays about $10/hr)  is absurd, and nobody should put up with it.  Not the instructors, nor the customers.

 

At 50-50, your basic $70/hr lesson would be from an instructor making a reasonable professional wage of $35/hr. 

 

I really don't understand how PSIA can refer to themselves as Professionals when they settle for boy rate.

post #189 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post
 


If the resort is able to charge that much money for a lesson what % of the contribution does the resort produce for the actual lesson versus the person teaching the actual lesson?  If the instructors sucked that bad and were McEmployees that can be replaced very easily than how does the market continue to command such high prices?

My guess? They do a phenomenal job of marketing instructors as top notch professionals and charging a professional rate.

Your instructors are not pros in their craft. The requirements for instructing? 18 years old, HSD and enough skiing ability to handle advanced runs. Basically, if you can fog your goggles, you're good enough to teach. If you want to get pissed about something, I'd go for the resorts fooling customers about how talented their instruction staff really is. 

post #190 of 205

I must then apologize for using the term scab, I had misread the term (I was exhausted when I wrote that post.) I was assuming that scab meant a young ski instructor who is in highschool, not someone without training. So please excuse my lack of knowledge about proper terms. 

post #191 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by brenster21 View Post
 

I must then apologize for using the term scab, I had misread the term (I was exhausted when I wrote that post.) I was assuming that scab meant a young ski instructor who is in highschool, not someone without training. So please excuse my lack of knowledge about proper terms. 

Actually it's neither. A scab is one who crosses a picket line to work while a union on strike won't work. Has nothing to do with skills or anything else. Once we have patrol and instructor unions, and they choose to strike, then we'll see scabs on the hill.


Edited by H2OnSnow - 3/27/15 at 12:48pm
post #192 of 205
What's the actual law/s that apply to giving a ski area a monopoly on instruction? Or is it just the way the contract with Forest Service is written?
What grounds could the contract be challenged on I guess is what I'm wondering. Whether that's a good idea or not is another question..
post #193 of 205

If you feel like digging, here is 16 U.S. Code § 497b - Ski area permits:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/16/497b

 

But I suspect you would have to argue on general "not in the public interest" grounds, rather than the language of the legislation.

 

I found this snippet interesting:

 

(3) Inclusions
Activities and facilities that may, in appropriate circumstances, be authorized under paragraph (1) include—
(A) zip lines;
(B) mountain bike terrain parks and trails;
(C) frisbee golf courses; and
(D) ropes courses.
(4) Exclusions
Activities and facilities that are prohibited under paragraph (1) include—
(A) tennis courts;
(B) water slides and water parks;
(C) swimming pools;
(D) golf courses; and
(E) amusement parks.
post #194 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tog View Post

What's the actual law/s that apply to giving a ski area a monopoly on instruction? Or is it just the way the contract with Forest Service is written?
What grounds could the contract be challenged on I guess is what I'm wondering. Whether that's a good idea or not is another question..


All commercial activity on Forest Service lands require a permit.  Instruction is just one of the activities included under exclusive use, just liike the cafeteria and ski shop.  The FS does that to maximize the value of the lease.  The North American ski business model is for the lift operator to own all the other business on the mountain. Ski areas on FS lands operate exactly the same way as ski areas on private property, except the the FS ski area operators have a powerful landlord to enforce their property rights.

Ski areas allow all kinds of different ski instruction, but because they own or lease exclusive rights, they generally will only allow outside instructors if they get a share of the revenue or if it otherwise helps their business.  You have no leverage to change that in ski areas on private property, and there is no hope that the FS would impose a different business model as a condition of its leases.

Actually, my experience would be better if they broke the monopoly on restaurants on the hill, but that's not gonna happen either.

 

BK

post #195 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bode Klammer View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tog View Post

What's the actual law/s that apply to giving a ski area a monopoly on instruction? Or is it just the way the contract with Forest Service is written?
What grounds could the contract be challenged on I guess is what I'm wondering. Whether that's a good idea or not is another question..


All commercial activity on Forest Service lands require a permit.  Instruction is just one of the activities included under exclusive use, just liike the cafeteria and ski shop.  The FS does that to maximize the value of the lease.  The North American ski business model is for the lift operator to own all the other business on the mountain. Ski areas on FS lands operate exactly the same way as ski areas on private property, except the the FS ski area operators have a powerful landlord to enforce their property rights.

Ski areas allow all kinds of different ski instruction, but because they own or lease exclusive rights, they generally will only allow outside instructors if they get a share of the revenue or if it otherwise helps their business.  You have no leverage to change that in ski areas on private property, and there is no hope that the FS would impose a different business model as a condition of its leases.

Actually, my experience would be better if they broke the monopoly on restaurants on the hill, but that's not gonna happen either.

 

BK

What I'm wondering about is whether the Forest Service is mandated to maximize the value of the lease, or if that is one of several competing goals.

post #196 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post

What I'm wondering about is whether the Forest Service is mandated to maximize the value of the lease, or if that is one of several competing goals.

I don't believe it's a mandate, but financial realities (shrinking budgets) and political pressure (Congress) make it pretty much SOP.
post #197 of 205
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bode Klammer View Post
 


All commercial activity on Forest Service lands require a permit.  Instruction is just one of the activities included under exclusive use, just liike the cafeteria and ski shop.... 

Actually, my experience would be better if they broke the monopoly on restaurants on the hill, but that's not gonna happen either.

 

BK

Your 1st sentence is correct and there are a lot of people who agree with your last sentence BUT the interesting thing is that the Ski Area Special Use Permits with the forest service actually say they are NON-EXCLUSIVE.

 

"E. Nonexclusive Use. This permit is not exclusive. The Forest Service reserves the right to use or permit others to use any part of the permitted area for any purpose, provided such use does not materially interfere with the rights and privileges hereby authorized."

 

I'd argue that allowing competition is not material interference in and of itself and so would most of the people who replied to this thread- http://thesandtrap.com/t/77497/golf-lessons-is-competition-material-interference

 

If you want to see more competitively priced food and instruction on your mountain, let the Forest Service know that they should allow competition- http://www.fs.fed.us/about-agency/contact-us

post #198 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by COBillsFan View Post
 

My guess? They do a phenomenal job of marketing instructors as top notch professionals and charging a professional rate.

Your instructors are not pros in their craft. The requirements for instructing? 18 years old, HSD and enough skiing ability to handle advanced runs. Basically, if you can fog your goggles, you're good enough to teach. If you want to get pissed about something, I'd go for the resorts fooling customers about how talented their instruction staff really is. 

So the resort falsely market their "not pros" as "top notch professionals" in order to charge "professional" rate!

 

If so, they should at least paid their "non-pro" instructors at close to "pro's" rates.

 

Who's perpetuating such false image while accepting unskilled labor rate? The ski instructors themselves!!! 

 

I guess they deserve to be paid as non-skilled seasonal labors? The one "unprofessional" behavior being they can't even negotiate their own decent pay rate. 

 

I bet many parents knows the truth, that their kid's "instructor" is nothing but a glorified baby sitter that comes to work on a pair of skis! That's why they only pay for their kid's lesson but never their own.  

 

Perhaps union can help turn that around. 


Edited by at_nyc - 3/28/15 at 11:23am
post #199 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree30 View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bode Klammer View Post
 


All commercial activity on Forest Service lands require a permit.  Instruction is just one of the activities included under exclusive use, just liike the cafeteria and ski shop.... 

Actually, my experience would be better if they broke the monopoly on restaurants on the hill, but that's not gonna happen either.

 

BK

Your 1st sentence is correct and there are a lot of people who agree with your last sentence BUT the interesting thing is that the Ski Area Special Use Permits with the forest service actually say they are NON-EXCLUSIVE.

 

"E. Nonexclusive Use. This permit is not exclusive. The Forest Service reserves the right to use or permit others to use any part of the permitted area for any purpose, provided such use does not materially interfere with the rights and privileges hereby authorized."

 

I'd argue that allowing competition is not material interference in and of itself and so would most of the people who replied to this thread- http://thesandtrap.com/t/77497/golf-lessons-is-competition-material-interference

 

If you want to see more competitively priced food and instruction on your mountain, let the Forest Service know that they should allow competition- http://www.fs.fed.us/about-agency/contact-us


Actually, I think the forest service rules are almost irrelevant.  I think most base areas are on private property, not FS lands, and that effectively gives the ski area control of everything that happens everywhere, regardless of who owns the land.  The FS could demand open access to all the base area facilities as a condition of the lease, but why would they?  I'm sure reducing the value of the leases is not part of the mission, and improving the quality of ski instruction is not such a huge public issue that Congress would force the FS to do something about it.

Maybe you could propose a non-exclusive lease for ski instruction to the FS, then organize a ski school that starts with a hike up to the lowest lift on FS lands.  Oh wait, the ski area owns the lift, so it will be an all hiking ski school.  Good luck with that.

 

BK

post #200 of 205
In a sense, there are "other" ski schools here. The Kalispell and Whitefish Ski Clubs each provide lessons to their members. The race team is a separate entity, paid by the parents, the Big Mountain Club (rich guys) has its own instructors, and there is some new "academy", unrelated to the race and freestyle teams, teaching "gap year" students.
post #201 of 205
So how about a monkey wrench here. What about CNL, a REIT that owns 16 ski areas and leases them to the people that manage them. Could CNL require the managing companies of the ski areas to allow other restaraunts and ski schools?
post #202 of 205
post #203 of 205
The comments in that link are as good as the article.
post #204 of 205

Sibhusky, I couldn't agree more.  Suzanne, in particular, left a comment that was more articulate than the article. 

post #205 of 205

There is a changing climate overall about work arrangements:

 

Retailers ending on-call shifts.  In this big-data world, it is just lazy management.  And as it becomes less "necessary" the various states' attorney generals are starting to wonder if it is even legal.  For example, 

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/08/26/us-gap-workers-idUSKCN0QV2JP20150826

 

 

And just recently, a restaurant chain announced it is ending tipping,

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/15/dining/danny-meyer-restaurants-no-tips.html?_r=0

 

The stated reason is that it distorts the wage balance between front-of-house and kitchen staff.  An analysis column I read made the point that tips (at a restaurant where they are common and predictable, at least) are not really "extra" money, they are part of the revenue stream of the restaurant.  (Otherwise, they would not be justification for a $2.13/hr minimum wage.)

 

Hey, I'm all for it.  

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