So many traits of ski instructors have been aired in this and so many other threads, but one in particular, has been missed.
Ski instr's tend to be very independent. We enjoy working around others, but we want to work by ourselves. We don't want bosses/sup's looking over our shoulders, constantly judging the effectiveness of our work. We are content to let our students be the arbiters of that determination.
So- why did I bring this up?
Several years ago, the Vail / Beaver Creek Ski and Snowboard School did have a union organizing effort. One of the primary organizers had a friend, who had a cousin, who heard of a guy... that had something to do with unions. You get my drift.
So, meetings were scheduled, and the information war started. Union info was photocopied and put in every locker. Management did the same thing, claiming the info the union gave was false. Scare tactics were used on BOTH sides of the process. But once the process is started, management CAN NOT make any offers, for that would be construed as tampering. But management did hold their own meetings, to convince the instr's that being union didn't benefit them.
Interestingly, the union which set the meetings was the UAW. How laughable. Two guys who looked like they just stepped out of a B grade movie, neither with more than a 3rd grade education, came to discuss the union option. They had no clue who we were, or what we did, or what levels of skill and education it takes to be successful at our job. All they saw was 1500 potential new members. You should have seen the look of shock on their faces when they found out we were SEASONAL employees! DUH!
At the largest meeting, right about 135 instr's showed up. Of course the union claimed it to be over 200. BS- I counted! And suprisingly- many of the attendee's were foreigners. Everyone in attendance was asked to fill out a union card, to force a vote among the staff. Once it was found out that the majority vote only had to be of those voting, not of the entire school, things really started going down hill.
Very tough questions were put forward to these two guys, which they had no answer to. Sorry, but that's not how you entice independent thinkers to buy off on something- with no answers. Within a very short time, it went from being a very serious meeting, to a union organizer fry. These guys had their feet put to the coals again and again and again. The only thing which created more wind than the BS coming from those organizers, was the opening and closing of the door as instr's left.
Needless to say, the union didn't happen. If it had- the shockwaves would still be pounding throughout the industry. You can bet that NSAA, SAM, PSIA, and all the other alphabet soup organizations were watching very closely to see what we would do. For if Vail/BC had gone union, so would many others. And it certainly is not in the best interests of the resort companies for that to happen.
After the dust settled, Vail/BC made a reasonably generous increase in pay, benefits, etc. It was the first significant pay raise in more than a few years. But it was also our last raise of more than "COL". But since then, the cost of lessons, both Pvt's and group, have gone up in excess of 35%, while pay rates have gone up a mere 12-15%. With the local cost of living escalating faster than the rate in Denver (the number used by the company), we have taken a slide in effective earning power.
Now, to be honest, no one comes into this industry with the expectation of making a huge fortune. But, for the effort we put into it, and the amount of revenue generated for the companies, shouldn't the average instr be able to make a living?