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Full time ski instructors' level of satisfaction with pay

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
This is my third attempt to do this poll correctly, so please bear with me.

There is ONE question, with choice of one of FOUR answers, to the following effect:

Full time ski instructor not happy with pay and would support a union to change that?

(1) Yes, that describes me

(2) No union, although I am a full time ski instructor unhappy with pay.

(3) I am a full time ski instructor not all that unhappy with my pay.

(4) I am NOT a full time ski instructor and vote here so I can see results of the poll.

[ April 16, 2003, 06:50 AM: Message edited by: oboe ]
post #2 of 26
I think that this question deserves a comment. Am I satisfied with my pay? In a word: BARF! In this day and age, who can make ends meet at $300 per week? And if it is slow, all you get paid for is lineup at $2.

I maintain that if a person shows up to work, he/she should get a days wage. Speaking of a days pay, who can make ends meet on a 20-25 hour week? The SSD and supervisors make a 40 hour week. Why not the people in the trenches? Paid health insurance? Surely you jest! A retirement or a 401k plan? Out of the question.

If a union were formed, or an existing union (Communication Workers of America (CWA) has taken ski patrollers under its wing)were to pick up instructors, it would be a long process. Organizing each resort would be time consuming. Then the resorts would have contracts negotiated on behalf of the workers. My thought would be to have CWA negotiate for instructors. They will have already had a working relationship with the resorts. If that has not occurred, then the patrollers and instructors can be negotiated as a package.

I belong to one of the better labor unions, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 33, in Los Angeles. I started with Local 33 in September, 1963. I received my journeyman card in 1969. Since I joined the Local, I have not had to worry about wages, health insurance or pension. For instance, an employee that is referred to a theatre, will make $28-31 per hour, depending on the specific theatre. That employee will receive a 7-8% contribution to his/her health insurance and a 6-7% contribution to the pension plan. Our health insurance fund is well over $100 million. So we have very little deductable per MD visit. The pension is figured at .0051 as a multiplier. So, if you make $1,000,000 during your career, you would get a pension of $5100 per month. I did not make the $1M, but I came close. I decided to retire at 62. If I had gone out at 65, I would have retired at well over the $1M mark. So I am very comfortable with the pension that I have.

Why have I written all about my union life? I am trying to illustrate the positive benefits of having a labor union represent ski instructors, nationwide. Without a livable wage and benefits, there will be no longevity of instructors. What we will see is a line of 18-26 year olds and a few retirees tteaching skiing. There are the exeptions like VSP and Bob Barnes. I hope that ski instructors, nationwide, make a livable wage within my lifetime.
post #3 of 26
Interesting poll. Oboe. I urge all voting in this poll to read the 'Nolo here's the answer about...' thread at: http://www.epicski.com/cgi-bin/ultim...c;f=4;t=001773

Just to highlight a few points. A Union need not be an affiliate of an exsisting union, it can be local and indepenent. A union is a democratic organization, if you stay involved and pay attention. In short, a Union, like government, is what you allow it to become.
post #4 of 26
I will go along with that concept. our Local is very democratic. We are forever getting in trouble with the parent organization, because of what our membership wants to accomplish.
post #5 of 26
bre'r oboe, I'd modify the goal to inquire on whether pay is adequate under the present conditions, so that the issue might be remediable by changing conditions, which wouldn't necessarily cost the ski areas more money.

anything that appears to be behaviorally based, and not cash infusion based, is more likely to be palatable to the ski area operator/owner... at least IMHO.

[ April 17, 2003, 03:10 PM: Message edited by: gonzostrike ]
post #6 of 26
Gonzo,

We are talking personal economics. Not behaviorial issues. It comes down to whether food is on the table, doctor bills paid and whether a person is able to retire at 65 or so. If we are to get parity saleries and benefits, with the rest of the working class, then it is going to cost the resorts money. No two ways about it.

I understand that wages in the rural West is not on par with the cities. Ski workers are not on par with the rest of the rural West. Let's suppose that a ski worker,s rent is $400 per month. According to US Dept of Labor statistics, one fifth of a person's salery goes to rent. This would mean that the worker should be making $2000 per month, or $12.50 per hour. Not many of us make that kind of money.
post #7 of 26
Gonzo,

We are talking personal economics. Not behaviorial issues. It comes down to whether food is on the table, doctor bills paid and whether a person is able to retire at 65 or so. If we are to get parity saleries and benefits, with the rest of the working class, then it is going to cost the resorts money. No two ways about it.

I understand that wages in the rural West is not on par with the cities. Ski workers are not on par with the rest of the rural West. Let's suppose that a ski worker,s rent is $400 per month. According to US Dept of Labor statistics, one fifth of a person's salery goes to rent. This would mean that the worker should be making $2000 per month, or $12.50 per hour. Not many of us make that kind of money.
post #8 of 26
Thread Starter 
bump
post #9 of 26
Not that I wouldn’t want more pay, who wouldn’t? But I am satisfied with the pay I receive. I would like to see some changes to our health plan though. I know there are many out there that would like to just have a health plan.-----------Wigs
post #10 of 26
Rick, I think you misunderstood me.

By "conditions," I mean the workplace. Sometimes more money makes a lousy workplace seem better. I think that's especially true for those who simply are trying to make ends meet.

So I'm asking the harder question -- are you seeking more $$ to make you ignore the workplace, because it's "too little" based upon subjective feelings, because it's "what you deserve," etc....

...or in other words, the bigger Q is...

if you say your pay is insufficient, WHY is the pay insufficient?
post #11 of 26
Thread Starter 
My poll is what I have intended it to be, Gonzostrike. If your "bigger Q" is that all-fired important to you, feel free to ask it in a poll of your own.
post #12 of 26
oboe, of course it is your poll. why do you assume I think it's mine?

your loaded question will yield poor information unless you clarify. it reminds me of the Faust Rossi "loaded question" in the BAR/BRI bar exam review course Evidence lectures --

"So, Mr Fish, are you still sodomizing your parrot?"
post #13 of 26
Thread Starter 
To ask a yes or no question - "Are you satisfied with your pay, or not?" - is not a "loaded question". As you can see, some have said "yes" and some have said "no".

Just forget about this poll - stick with with the parrot, and my best to you both.
post #14 of 26
once again, the bitter lawyer from Vermont shows why he's such a terrific conversationalist

who urinated in your breakfast flakes?
post #15 of 26
Thread Starter 
So far [April 21, 2003], only three full time instructors out of thirteen are unhappy with their pay and would join a union to remedy that. Four out of thirteen are unhappy with their pay, but are not interested in a union, and six out of thirteen are not unhappy with their pay. There must be a substantial number of full time instructors visiting this web site whose interest in the subject does not motivate them to respond to the poll or who decline to respond for other reasons - perhaps lack of cover, and the more responses the more cover, and the more cover the more responses will be realized.

Unless the "real" figures out there gainsay this unscientific (but interesting) poll, there does not appear to be any substantial interest in the union route, and there do not appear to be a huge number of full tme instructors who will say they are dissatisfied with their pay.
post #16 of 26
How many full-time instructors visit here? My impression was that a lot of instructing bears are part-time.
post #17 of 26
It is probably very different by ski area. Some ski area pays and treat their employee better. In my ski area, there is a huge turnover, no new full timer stayed for more than a season. Even the guys from Argentina bailed out and found work somewhere else. This give you an idea of the level of satisfaction of the workers, if Argentina is better... The typical ski instructor is getting older and almost financially independent. It is impossible for a entry level younger guy to live there, get married and raise a family on those salary, so most bailed out, usually some very talented individuals. So most full timer have been there for a long time or were part-time that have some money aside that chosed to become full time to bring a little money along their retirement. A good number of those who answer the poll might be top level or don't need much money at this point in their life.

As it is for the union question, it seems incomprehensible to me that so many people in the U.S. are so afraid of the only way to bring balance to the forces at play. Well, I am not American so I might need a more historical perspective but it seem that Big Business did a good job at scaring people of Unions. They should not throw the baby with the bath water...

[ April 22, 2003, 04:08 PM: Message edited by: Frenchie ]
post #18 of 26
Well, I think the upper class, or whatvever term you might like to use has done a good job of discrediting unions in general. Unions tend to be associated with organized crime and the messy affairs of the lower class, not that the politically correct will normally use the term or admit that association affects their feelings on the subject.

Short of some unforseen business condition, I can't see the situation changing vis a vis instructors' pay and related matters without some kind of collective representation to speak on their behalf.

The current situation tends to select out those who are not financially independent so naturally your poll will tend to reflect that. As long as there are sufficient numbers of such folks who are happy enough to accept the current situation and as long as the situation is satisfactory to the industry, pay rates will not change, no matter how much wishful thinking.
post #19 of 26
Once again, my dear Arcadie, you have nailed it!
post #20 of 26
So true, and so sad.
We have high levels of unionism here, and that has resulted in worker's rights being enshrined in federal legislation. One of our 2 major parties is founded in unionism.
So in the US, I was on $11/hour. In Oz, $20.
post #21 of 26
Oboe,

Here's an answer you might have proposed:

Are you a part time instructor because you can't afford to be a full time instructor, but if there were a union that allowed for instrucotrs to make a livable wage, you would be a full time instructor?

Also, Rick H proposed that at $12.50/hr we could afford $400/mo rent.
a) Can you really raise a family in a place that rents for $400/mo?

b) That would assume that you work 160hr/mo, which is not even close to possible as an instructor (unless you were to get paid your hourly rate just for being at the ski area, which is the way it should be, since they require me to be there)

In reality you'd have to make $25/hr, 5 hrs/day, 5 days a week, to bring in $2500/mo, to pay $500/mo rent. It can be done at some ski areas, but not many. Not to mention the fact that it only lasts about 4-5 months a year. Then you need to find other employment for the other 7-8 months.
post #22 of 26
Thread Starter 
Notwithstanding the lengthy discussion of this and related topics elsewhere, there has not been a flood of participation in the poll by full time instructors - not yet, anyway.

It just may be that, for anyone interested in pursuing collective bargaining in the ski instruction profession, the journey would be sharply uphill.
post #23 of 26
Just as a ski pro makes the decision to be a ski pro, so does he/she make the decision about where they work.

I started my career in California, where the ski biz is a weekend industry. Starting as a rookie in '75, at $4.50 p/h, I climbed the ranks of cert till I was making the huge sum of $8.50 p/h in '78. In '79, I left that area for another closer to Tahoe, and become a senior instr, then a supervisor for the princely sum of $1200 p/month, for a 5 day week. When I left that area in '85, I was up to (hold your breath-) $1400 p/m!

I had to make a decision- was I going to get starved out by the areas, or should I make a change to somewhere I could make a living?

Try a bigger mountain, one of my mentors told me. So here I am at Vail. I've run throught the gamut of positions here, from F/T, Contract Instr, Supervisor, SSD of one of Vails feeder areas, Senior Trainer, etc. And in that time, the pay and benefits have risen slowly, but steadily.

For my own reasons, I now am nothing more than a Contract Instr, working with just my own clientele. But the income (not including tips) I make is sufficient to provide me with a comfortable existence. Would I turn down more if it were offered? Heck , no!

So, if your area is not paying what you expect, or need from your efforts, you have options. (This is for FULL TIME instr's)

You can :
A)- Continue teaching where you are, and quit your bellyaching
B)- Bargain your way to a better deal with your area
C)- Move to a different area which offers more work, benefits and pay
D)- Just quit the industry

I'm sure I've stirred up a hornet's nest with this statement, but remember- nobody is an indentured servant anymore. Be a free agent, and sell your soul to the highest bidder! And if you don't like it, move on. There's always somewhere else...

:
post #24 of 26
Thread Starter 
VSP, there's something else available, too: Have an off season job that pays well.
post #25 of 26
VSP, I agree. I came to the conclusion that I cannot make a living as a full time ski instructor in California. So I quit the industry. I was still teaching part time on weekends until last year. I would still love to make a living doing this without leaving this area and I am still thinking about some alternative ways to do so.

However, I also feel that the ski area own a monopoly on some services at the ski area, in particular ski instruction. This allow them to charge a lot to the consumer and to be the only source of employment for the instructors hence the low wages. It should not be permitted that resorts that operate on public land prevent competition to enter the work market.

On the other hand, I don't understand why the people that complain the most are showing at line up years after years. Are they masochist or what? As long as they will find peoples willing to do those jobs at those conditions the situation will not change. The best way to show an employer your dissatisfaction is to look somewhere else. I did. I had no other choice to keep some dignity. I could not accept those conditions and I could not see it change. I found myself a better job and I am more satisfied with it.

What disturb me the most is when people are tricked into situations. The first season I spent as a ski instructor the ski area led me to believe that there was actually money to be made there and it was not true. For many years, they do the same to some foreign instructors that took the expenses to get there, made no money and end up not being able to pay the rent and barely be able to go back home. No compensation, no show up pay, no 30 hours+, no promess kept...Those guys wasted money and some parts of their life there. You cannot downplay those abuse and play with somebody life this way, this is not honest. Those do not return but they wasted some valuable time and money in the process.

[ April 25, 2003, 11:13 PM: Message edited by: Frenchie ]
post #26 of 26
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