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September 03, 2006

More on Wages for Employees at Aspen Skiing Company

Again, it is evil and wrong to shop at Walmart, but totally OK to vacation at Aspen. It seems that Aspen cannot hire enough college kids from the US, so this last year they relied on over 350 Foreign Workers, here on temporary work visas.

Like ski bums of bygone days, they are often college students who come into town for a little work, and maybe a little partying, for a season. But these workers are often from the Southern Hemisphere - Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa - whose summer breaks coincide with Colorado's ski season.

For summer resorts, it's more likely workers from the Czech Republic or Romania serving up coffee or cleaning sheets. The Aspen Daily News reports on this foreign army of workers in its Mountain Business Journal. "If you got rid of the foreign workforce in Aspen, there wouldn't be anybody working there," said Norman, Okla., immigration attorney Jon Velie, who helps a number of clients obtain visas to work in Aspen. "There's a handful of Americans, just not enough to fulfill the need."

Aspen Skiing Co. hired nearly 350 foreign workers last season - that's about one of every 10 SkiCo employees - who came in on H-2B short-term worker visas and J-1 foreign exchange visas. "We've tried to (fill those jobs domestically)," said Jim Laing, SkiCo's vice president for human resources. "We've not been able to. And we've been able to substantiate that with the U.S. government. ... We have to substantiate the need. We actually run ads domestically, with all the applications being sent to the Department of Labor to show that we don't have enough applicants to supply the demand that's out there."

Other ski areas across the state hire hundreds more. Each year, the federal government hands out 66,000 H-2B visas, divided equally between winter and summer seasonal employment. Employers gobbled up those visas so quickly, last year the government exempted thousands more workers who had held the visa for more than three years.

Aspen Skiing Company has lots of pet "PC" projects that do not include living wages for their employees.

ASPEN (AP) - The Aspen Skiing Co. is supporting a lawsuit seeking to require the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate vehicles’ greenhouse gas emissions.

The Supreme Court agreed in June to take up the case brought by a dozen states and others including the Sierra Club. Aspen Skiing Co. filed a friend of the court brief supporting the petitioners Thursday.

And then there is this about Vail following Aspen's lead in buying "wind credits":

Vail Resorts Inc. will buy enough renewable energy to cover electricity use for all of its ski areas, hotels and headquarters, making it the nation's second-largest corporate user of wind power behind Whole Foods. The "green" energy will cover power use at its five ski resorts, its lodging properties, including RockResorts and Grand Teton Lodge Co., all 125 retail locations operated through Specialty Sports Venture and its new corporate headquarters.

"Companies need to start diversifying their energy sources," said Vail CEO Rob Katz, who made the announcement at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science along with Gov. Bill Owens and U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo. "We view sustainability as integral to our company's future success." Vail, which recently moved its headquarters to Broomfield from Avon, will buy about 152,000 megawatt hours of wind-power credits from Boulder-based Renewable Choice Energy.

Vail will not actually be powered by wind. Instead, the credits will pump more wind energy into the nation's electric grid, reducing the amount of coal and natural gas used. The publicly traded company would not disclose the cost.

Here are the jobs posted for Aspen Skiing Company at their website:

  • Child Care Attendant: Starting wage - $9.27/hr
  • Lift Attendants: Starting wage - $9.25/hr plus a possible $1500.00 end of season retention bonus if you finish out the season.
  • Guest Services Hosts/Hostesses: Starting wage - $9.50/hr
  • Retail/Rental Clerk: Starting wage - $9.38/ hr
  • Ticket Seller Clerk: Starting wage - $9.38/ hr
  • Mountain Photo Sales Clerk: Starting wage - $9.38/ hr
  • Cafeteria Server or Waiter/Waitress (Informal): Starting wage - $9.21/ hr (Does not guarantee 40/hrs./wk.)

So guess what, when you pay $9.25 an hour to folks to live in a town where they cannot afford to rent an apartment, the only takers you get are immigrants. In some elitist circles, we call this movement of jobs from highly (or lowly) paid US workers to cheap foreign labor "OUTSOURCING". Gone are the days of ski bums. Wages are so low, even the ski bums won't take them. Yet the folks at Aspen can still get all kinds of Liberal Kudos for being environmentally friendly. Because Spotted Owls and Global Warming and Al Gore have families to feed unlike the underclass of marginally employed workers that serve us our coffee at the resorts. But Aspen supports wind energy and reducing greenhouse emissions. Sure, they have to import workers because pay is so low, but they pay lawyers to file briefs against the Bush Administration's environmental policies.

Posted by Justin at September 3, 2006 08:13 PM