A new deal between Telluride Resort and its pro patrol force gives those often-under-represented workers one of the best packages in the industry. The contract, signed last month, provides a compensation system that encourages additional skill set training. It provides financial assistance for educational training, and meaningful annual cash equipment allowances. And it allows ski patrol to participate in all Telluride employee perks programs.

“The first contract established job security and a framework to address employee wages, job safety and benefits,” says Telluride patroller Tony Daryani. “Negotiations on the new contract focused on an economic package that reflects the realities of a professional patrol working on a challenging mountain situated in a very expensive mountain town.”

Management wanted to acknowledge it sees patrol as a valuable resource. “It became clear that several situations and circumstances were overlooked in that first negotiation, and I asked the patrol union representatives if they wanted to consider working on a new agreement a full year before the first agreement was to expire,” says Telluride CEO Bill Jensen. “We spent August, September and October this summer meeting to discuss how we could create a new three-year agreement that better reflected their contributions and commitment to the success of Telluride Ski Resort. There was no union representative or attorneys at any of the meetings and the conversations were insightful and productive. They generated a new agreement that acknowledges the professional commitment patrol undertakes every day in the performance of their duties.”

Every item the patrol representatives brought up for consideration was addressed to the satisfaction of the representatives. Management accepted all of those proposals, according to Jensen. The patrol ratified the new three year agreement in a 56-0 vote.

Telluride patrol wages fall between $14.25 an hour (entry level probationer trainee) to approximately $31 an hour for a tenured, highly skilled patrol specialist. A large majority of the Telluride Ski Patrol are tenured long-term patrollers with a variety of skill sets that compensate them in the $20 to $30 an hour range.

“I think the industry will take note that the days of taking for granted the special skills required by a qualified and professional ski patrol are over.” says Daranyi.

—Doug Schnitzspahn