or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Nolo - here's your answer about ski instructor pay...
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Nolo - here's your answer about ski instructor pay... - Page 2

post #31 of 120
Rusty, I don't begrudge you what you are paid simply because you have been at it three years and I for 22. This is a local decision that is negotiated by the collective bargainer: the ski school director. The director whose purpose is to provide service excellence to the customer is going to do a better job of negotiating for the instructors than one who wants the department to look good on a financial statement. To make money is a lousy purpose. To be excellent is a great purpose. Excellent outfits make money. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
post #32 of 120
Well, guess what folks. Without a union, you guys are going to be stuck on the same merry-go-round forever. I would think that you would be dizzy by now.
post #33 of 120
skier_j, since no one else tackled your question, let me try. Should you want a private at Vail from an instructor of their choice the split would be something like this:

A one hour walk in private costs $135 of which the instructor gets from $15-20 and the area keeps from $115-120.

A full day private costs $525 of which the instructor gets $90-100 and Vail keeps $425-435.

The spread in class lessons is even wider.

post #34 of 120
post #35 of 120
nolo, if I managed a ski area and found out that my SSD thought of him/herself as a "collective bargainer" on behalf of the employees, I'd have some problem with that. The SSD is a part of management and should be working for the best interests of the employer company. The essence of "collective bargaining" is a "bargaining agent" who, by law, is responsible to the employees he/she/it represents - NOT to the employer company.

If you're concerned about the orthodontist bill, college tuition, retirement, whatever, and you must improve your position to account for that, there are basically two models. The first is to get the best deal you can as an individual and, if need be, supplement your work with real estate, construction, writing, etc. The second is to achieve legal status as a bargaining unit and hammer out the best deal possible for ALL instructors in the ski school. The second is a "union", and there's just no point in trying to pin another name on it. I agree that it can tend to cultivate mediocrity - but it need not.

Very highly paid actors and athletes are involved in a "union" situation, seeming to know where their bread is buttered. Golfers and tennis players are not involved in quite the same kind of set up - individuals that they are. Even individuals, though, have agents who go to bat for them in securing advantageous terms and conditions of employment.

Again, if the "non-greedy" reasonable pecuniary aspirations of full-time ski instruction professionals are the objective, again: There are two models, mutually exclusive. Take your pick.
post #36 of 120
I want to say some good things about unions. They are much maligned, and God knows that in this country for the last two generations they have been an absymal economic and social failure. But the ideal of collective action by employees in a free market economy has wonderful and constructive potential.

First off, Vail Sno Pro's story has been repeated hundreds of times in hundreds of contexts. The recent unionization efforts of organized labor in this country have been laughable, with a few isolated exceptions in the public sector and elsewhere. Unfortunately, the leadership of the American labor movement until recently was racist, sexist and corrupt (both economically and politically). More recently, that leadership has been merely inept, intellectually bankrupt and second rate. Sad to say, that represents an improvement.

This is a tragedy when you look at the unmet needs of vast swaths of the work force. Forget about ski instructors and think about single mothers in clerical jobs, part time retail workers in malls all over the country, resident aliens, legal and illegal, getting hired for cash by the day on street corners.

As socail classes,these people are not in a position to improve their situations by individual self help (don't be confused by the annectodal evidence of the occasional heartwarming story. So, you can consign them to collective self-help (though devices like unions) or the political process. I'm personally very skeptical of the government's ability to deal with these issues. We seem to end up with political compromises that get thrown in the courts and everyone is then appalled at the cost of legal fees and power of unelected judges.

Far better to put the resolution of these issues to the private sector. But to do that you need some negotiating parity. That makes me a fan of collective bargaining and strong unions.

I realize that a ski school are an odd micro-climate in the unreal Petri dish of the resort environment. It's easy to be confused by the lushness of the surroundings. And let's face face it, there are a fair number trustafarians and others with additional sources of income in the mix. But odder groups have succesfully unionized. Look at all those former military officers who fly jets for a living.
post #37 of 120
Okay, I'm listening, Oboe and Sno'more. There is one question that begs to be asked. What would happen to PSIA if instructors joined or formed a union?
post #38 of 120
Ah! Isn't that the question, though!

At least two ways to go:

(1) PSIA remains the "Board of Bar Examiners", and a different organization is formed to be "The Bar Association".

(2) As in some states which have a "unified bar", PSIA becomes both.

I like (1) better. Guess why?
post #39 of 120
Screen Actors Guild,

not the same as

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
post #40 of 120
State Board of Medical Examiners,


American Medical Association
post #41 of 120

Sno'more knows his onions here. Best NOT to go with one of the intellectually and philosophically bankrupt "International" unions. Start fresh! There is a lot of knowledgeable legal talent out there (such as sno'more) for consultation, so you don't need an existing union.
post #42 of 120
Originally posted by gonzostrike:
why don't all the instructors and coaches who gripe about the pay just move on to another line of work?

come on, folks. skiing is a sport and hobby. if you choose to work with the skiing ACTIVITY (and not the reprehensible BUSINESS of skiing) you aren't going to make much. it's that simple.

maybe artists should unionize and demand more money for their "products" (use of a business term is highly tongue-in-cheek)... uh, I mean, work?

waaaaah! we get to ski all day and we're underpaid!

waaaaah! we get huge discounts on ski equipment and don't have to pay for lift passes! we're so underpaid!

waaaaah! some of us also get health benefits etc. we're so underpaid!

good god, folks.

don't you realize that you are LUCKY to be able to make ANY income while skiing?
post #43 of 120
Originally posted by skier_j:
yep - now you know why

a) I'm broke after having a private lesson every day in a 70 day season.... (even at 1/2 price)

b) My instructors are worse off than I am..... one tells me he CAN'T retire at this rate(he is making plans to fix that)

c) I feed instructors a LOT during season & lend them transportation

d) I STILL feel guilty I can't afford to tip the poor bastards in a better manner (they tell me it is made up for by me rescuing them from more mundane tasks on good snow days.... like 'Lets GO! ...ah yes OFF the blue run for the first time in 2 weeks....' I might squeal but....at least I sort of ski while doing it.... )

BTW I think it IS a little better here.... a private lesson is $150-190 for 2 hours... I think the better paid instructors get about $30 an hour ??? anyone have better idea???
I know ski school fret BIG time when someone forgot to tell the desk that if I get SPRING prices then the 50% off means they make a LOSS on the lesson (with a less than full pay rate instructor)
post #44 of 120
diski, $30 an hour for instructors in the USA is an oddity. Half that, around $15 is close. Though our little hill in Ohio always paid more to instructors than the ones out west, full certified got $13/hr already in 1982 and it is up to $15 now, besides a discount on food, they do not get any clothing allowance for uniforms, travel money or anything else, so it is not as well paid as it seems.

Also, a 'full day' private or class lesson is different in the resorts. Some have two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon where the instructor makes about $60 for the day, some do five and some even six hours for a day private, I don't know what Vail is, but if it is five hours the instructor makes $75 out of the $525 charged and the area keeps $450.

A 'Ski Instructors Guild', even at a single area could appoint a negotiator from within which would not put the director in the perilous position of being an advocate for the instructors instead of management.

If, as skier_j mentioned, the instructor would get 1/3 of what is charged, he would get $175 a day at Vail, $875 for the week, which is equal to a school teacher who makes $45,000 a year, the average in Ohio.

Instructors and SSDs in this forum are reluctant to talk numbers and I can understand why, though it needn't be a secret, since if it were out in the open changes for the better would come sooner.

post #45 of 120
This is great! We are well on out way!!!!

NOLO ...... the articulate PRESIDENT and spokesperson,

OBOE ..... COUNSEL to the the oppressed.

.... But, when you think about it, from the least likley of places, a revolution may arise????

According to the Vonnegut Scale, are we a serious contender or a "Grand Faloon"?

[ April 06, 2003, 07:57 AM: Message edited by: yuki ]
post #46 of 120
Gonzo, if you were a level 9 looking for a lesson, wouldn't you want a pro like Bob B. or nolo or Eric D. Someone who's made a life out of making skiers like you better and has all the tools neccesary to do so. If we want to keep this talent and experience around, we have to find a way to make ski instruction more balanced. Life happens and not all of it comes cheap, especially in the resort environment.
Well, you make a good point, but I think you see a picture that is idealized or perhaps just in error.

First, "the resort environment" is not where I ski, nor is it where I want to ski. So, I'm not too concerned about what happens there. Sorry.

Second, I think I already have the chance to go ski with Bob Barnes or Nolo or Eric DesLauriers, provided I arrange in advance and agree to pay their fee. I know that Eric has camps and I've exchanged e-mails with him about attending one, although that was last season and not this one.

What I want to know -- most sincerely -- is why do WE have to do something to improve THEIR job security?

Don't we all have independent obligations to work toward our own respective levels of job security?

Why this cry for socialism?

I haven't tried to enlist support from you folks to increase my salary.

Why this shift in responsibility?

I'm serious. Why?

[ April 06, 2003, 08:26 AM: Message edited by: gonzostrike ]
post #47 of 120

As for what Vail ski pros make on an all day private, I’m sure it’s more than what you suggest. As for what the majority of the ski pros in this country make, it’s disgraceful. At least for the ones that want to make a career of it.
I can’t really complain much other than the fact that we here in the Aspen Ski School hasn’t seen much in the way of a raise in a few years now, we are still paid rather well. We are on the average paid $25.00 an hour over the season. Our pay scale is somewhat complicated the way it works, but that’s the average. It’s a bit more for long time pros who have been here awhile and who are fully certified. I also don’t see why we as ski pros shouldn’t want to make a little more for our skills as teachers of the sport of snow skiing. I don’t think we whine anymore than the next guy or girl when it comes to wanting more pay for what they do. I have chosen what I want to do with my life and I’m NOT whining about it. Yes, I would like to take a little more of the cut from a lesson. But considering where I live and what I do to live here, I really don’t have too much to complain about. Oh, BTW, gonzostrike, you’ve got a bad attitude IMHO, and I’m really sorry that your a poor lawyer, NOT! : ------------Wigs
post #48 of 120
Wigs, as you say, the pay structure in large ski schools is complicated, but in 95+% of ski schools in thecountry, $15 is much nearer the average than $25.

post #49 of 120
Oh & Gonz - I CANNOT have a lesson with anyone I choose organised between us.....

At least one resort here has a condition on it's lift passes that the recipient must NOT teach skiing....

I would happily bargain with persons for lessons if I was able - but I am NOT allowed to... if I am NICE to ski schools they MAY deign to allow me the instructors I WANT to ski with....
post #50 of 120
I have to say, I don't see the union thing happening, and certainly not with me, Yuki. I think area management needs profit centers to keep the operation in the black. I'm told my pay is at the top of the scale. The scale is the scale. Just like other businesses, ski area operators compare notes about what they pay their help, and the prevailing model is based on a percentage of the revenues. If money was my motivation, I'd work at the resort down the road (Yellowstone Club) or, as Gonzo suggests, find another job.

I have a very good teaching situation at Bridger. I keep my own schedule and do my own thing. No line-ups. I know who I am teaching beforehand so I can plan lessons. I have a great classroom. It vividly demonstrates that skiing has no ceiling as far as terrain to be skied and makes people want the skills to be able to.

Even though this topic doesn't affect me, it bothers me a lot. Obviously. I keep thinking of something Gonzo's teacher, Jim Weiss, said to me about the sea change that got us where we are today. In the early days of skiing, guys like Hannes Schneider and Emile Allais set up name schools, imported talent from their home countries, and trained Americans in their methods. I believe Jim worked for Emile Allais in the '60s. I believe the pay was pretty good to attract all the charismatic Euros.

What happened, according to Jim, is when it came time for the next generation of instructors to take on the business of ski instruction, "They just want to go zig-zag." Actually, Jim was repeating something someone else said, one of the frustrated owners, I believe, who feared that there would be a loss of quality if ski areas took over ski school operations.

So, according to Jim, "we" had our chance, or some instructors did, to run the show like their mentors, but they backed down, didn't want the responsibility, etc. In actual fact, many ski areas saw how much money the ski schools were bringing in and coveted the business. As principal permit holder on the National Forest, they had the clout to shut the indies down. So here we are, "working for the best interests of the employer company" (Oboe). Most of us pros are working for some company. The company sets the scale. If you don't like the scale, go to another company. Just know that they all use the same measure based on revenues. The price of the lesson determines the pay.

If you want to make more money working for a company school, you have to work more or get the company to raise the price of your lessons.

If you want to work for yourself, you have to own the company. There are two ways I know of to do this:

1. Eric D. owns his own company, writes books, produces videos, etc. He has a brand. I hope he's making money.

2. There's a ski area down the road from me that might be looking for investors next year, according to a recent newspaper story.
post #51 of 120
Idealized and wrong?

"First, "the resort environment" is not where I ski, nor is it where I want to ski. So, I'm not too concerned about what happens there. Sorry."

I like the backcountry as well, but it seems to me that most towns that have skiing around them are resort towns, or at least priced that way. Where do you ski that isn't a resort area?

"Second, I think I already have the chance to go ski with Bob Barnes or Nolo or Eric DesLauriers, provided I arrange in advance and agree to pay their fee. I know that Eric has camps and I've exchanged e-mails with him about attending one, although that was last season and not this one."

"as Gonzo suggests, find another job.as Gonzo suggests, find another job."

These ideas are what I was refering to. yes you can work with eric, bob, nolo or myself now, but with the system the way it is now, how long till that is no longer true. You suggested in the second quote to find another job, and I have. I'm working to solve this problem as an individual and have done so quite well. That doesn't mean it's not a problem. When people have to leave to support their families, skiing continually loses the best teachers. Then they are replaced by the next wave, who decide if ski instruction is worth the sacrifices and then many of them leave. It's a problem. I'm also a tennis instructor, an individual, and the avail. pay is way beyond that of a ski instructor. Ski resorts still like having lots of cheap labor and going through them. Most leave before they are able to really ski or teach well, let less bring change of consequence to a level 9 skier.

Anyway, I'm not a socialist. I was just pointing out that there is a problem. I've solved it as an idividual, but by stepping on the rules and then moving toward a more lucrative career. I'm not in the league of bob, eric or nolo, but now my students have to find someone else because the system couldn't support me.
post #52 of 120
Wouldn't it be neat to have a ski area BASED ON instruction, training and coaching, and also allow sking by others to help foot the bill.

Skiing is a "niche" sport in the U.S of A. As long as most folks would rather watch baseball, football, and basketball than watch or particiapte in skiing, this does not appear to be THE place to make a bundle. Can you imagine a skier - ANY skier, instructor or competitor - pulling down the millions per year that are not uncommon for the ball players. Of course, not ALL of them make the millions.

To make money in skiing means, yes, owning an area, or coming up with something unique, or wielding clout through collective action. "Collective action" - as distinguished from "collective bargaining" - need not be a union, either.

[ April 06, 2003, 05:46 PM: Message edited by: oboe ]
post #53 of 120
P.S. Something about which I know nothing, or less: How does all this play out in Europe?
post #54 of 120
People want to be taught skiing by talented, skilled people. Meanwhile, ski instructors are paid low pay. Many talented, skilled people in such a situation will grow tired of living poorly, and leave the profession. Ski schools still need people in ski instructor uniforms to teach lessons. So larger numbers of these teachers will be those who accept the low pay, and many of these will not be skilled or talented.

We still have fairly high levels of unionism in Australia, although the employers (in all industries) are trying to dismantle that. Ski instructors in Oz are paid a reasonable rate (4 seasons, US level 2 = about $20/hour) as a result of unionism. I believe in Europe the pay scales are reasonable too. Difference in attitude to instructors in these countries also: instructors have quite high status, they are regarded as something respectable, while in the US, I've got the impression that instructors are regarded more as "resort workers".

The bottom line is, the unfair treatment of instructors in the US results in lessons being a lottery for the consumers. They might get a good one, they might get a bad one; I suspect that most will get a mediocre one.
post #55 of 120
Originally posted by gonzostrike:

I would talk to my fellow teachers & coaches and see how many would be willing to join me in trying to gang-negotiate a fairer cut of the ski area's earnings that result from lessons. I agree that the pay should be more closely related to what the ski area earns as profit on running a ski school. But you have to act, not complain. To use a sad old cliche, put your money where your mouth is.

You read it here, folks - Gonzo advocates a UNION!

[ April 07, 2003, 06:15 AM: Message edited by: oboe ]
post #56 of 120
Gonz: From a historic perspective, the economies of Germany, Austria and Japan were still on the ropes when many of the instructors came over.

Ski instruction and karate were viewed as "export products" till the mid 60's. You won't see such talent (on that scale), coming this way anymore.

In 63, the Mercedes 220S, was about $30 cheaper than the Chevy Impala. Hoffman Motors in NYC was off loading BMW's for about $1,250 ..........

Those were the days .... : ...... spoils of war ..... great instruction and cheap cars .... [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]

[ April 07, 2003, 06:44 AM: Message edited by: yuki ]
post #57 of 120
First, "the resort environment" is not where I ski, nor is it where I want to ski. So, I'm not too concerned about what happens there. Sorry.
What I want to know -- most sincerely -- is why do WE have to do something to improve THEIR job security? -gonzostike
Of course the Unabomber, (a neighbor?), was even more educated and articulate than even (gasp!) yourself. Perhaps you should retreat further into the woods where you can issue statements which confirm your brillance to the lowly slime you see ruining the country.

When I see an ad in the NY Times by the Trial Lawyers Association saying how they're not to blame for malpractice blah, blah,blah.... Should we care?

Should we care health care is so expensive?
Should we care about education?

Hey, since hardly anyone lives in Montana, why not use that for missile testing? I mean Nevada and New Mexico have done they're share so let's move on to new territory.

Why should we care about anything?

Feel free to respond with a two page diatribe. I really need to be convinced of your brilliance. (Don't forget the bullet points so my feeble mind can more easily digest it.)
post #58 of 120
Tog - what a laugh. Now that you've ranted against everything that IN YOUR MIND connects to me, I hope you feel better.

Now, let's move on.

You haven't even addressed the substance of my issues.

Why do you feel it's necessary to talk about such things as the nation's education or healthcare policies when the issue we're discussing is WORK QUALITY and FAIR TREATMENT?

RE your comment on malpractice etc., do you want me to answer for all attorneys? That would be just as wise as you answering for all men. Neither makes sense. Of course, you aren't trying to make sense, you're just ranting uncontrollably.

What a waste of bandwidth.

[ April 07, 2003, 09:21 AM: Message edited by: gonzostrike ]
post #59 of 120
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by gonzostrike:

...Actual unions are the scourge of our economy. I shudder when I think of how the Mafia have gotten fat off the backs of union laborers.
Well, I was out skiing this past weekend and haven't been online to respond to this.

Gonzo, apparently you've chosen to ignore the reasons the unionization movement got established early in the 20th century. There are few words strong enough to describe the conditions under which millions of people worked and the levels to which many companies exploited their workers. Some of the abuses were downright inhuman. Without strength of numbers, threats of strikes, collective bargaining, and the power of the law, much of what is now middle class America might never have come to be.

I'll agree that the current status of unions in general has declined and that there are plenty of abuses around to cite, but the concept of a fairly strong employee advocate group is a good one. Checks and balances.

Unions are much like our governments (local, state, and federal) - members or citizens get exactly the kind of government they deserve. If we (as citizens or as union members) don't hold our representatives accountable for corrupt practices, they will deal in their own interests and consolidate power.

The *concept* of unions is an excellent one (one that might be applicable to ski school employees at many larger ski resorts, for that matter.) The execution has been flawed in many instances, but that's because it involves that messy thing known as human nature.

post #60 of 120
If Gonzo REALLY didn't care, he wouldn't be here so much. He cares, alright. He just has this unique way of expressing it . . . well, let us HOPE it's unique, or at least rare.

He's also accomplished at stirring the pot - in this case by planting a ripe, smelly red herring: He asks, why should HE care? Why should HE do anything about the issue under discussion. Of course, for the most part, I don't think that folks posting here are suggesting that he do a damned thing, except maybe sit down be silent for awhile. He, on the other hand, says he doesn't care, or anything, but while he happens to be online, hey! How 'bout let's have an instructors union!

As I see it, he's asking why should he, not an instructor, care about the economic and general welfare of instructors - that's THEIR problem (and many of them would agree). He says that, rather than complain, they should DO something about it - like "gang-negotiate", which is another and entertaining way to say "collective bargaiining enforced by legally protected concerted activity" which is, of course, a union.

[ April 07, 2003, 09:44 AM: Message edited by: oboe ]
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Nolo - here's your answer about ski instructor pay...