- Associated Press - Saturday, August 15, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Members of the ski patrol at the Taos Ski Valley resort have set a date in November to vote on unionizing, with a veteran member saying the group of about 45 seasonal workers wants more of a say about pay and benefits as new management makes changes.

The vote comes two years after hedge fund billionaire Louis Bacon bought the resort from the family of its founder, Ernie Blake.

Long-time ski patrol member Rey Deveaux told the Albuquerque Journal (https://bit.ly/1LbXZrk ) that the union vote is not a “hostile-type thing.”

“We love what we do. We love the mountain,” said Deveaux, a patrol member for 43 years. “We just want to make it better for everybody.”

Taos Ski Valley CEO Gordon Briner said in a statement that the resort can better address ski patrol members’ issues without going through a union.

“We genuinely believe that the insertion of a third party - with its own interests and agenda - will damage our long-term working relationship that has provided our community and guests excellent, safe and committed service,” Briner said.

The new ownership has added a high-altitude ski lift and is redoing the base-area village, with plans for a new hotel, retail space, equipment rentals, restaurant and spa.

“With all the changes with new management and new ideas and the challenges that come with that, we want to be part of the process,” said Deveaux, 63. “We feel like we’re qualified and should have a voice.”

Ski patrol members are all emergency medical technicians or paramedics and help injured skiers, patrol for avalanche risk, use explosives to reduce avalanche dangers, monitor weather conditions and train search dogs.

The vote on whether to unionize under the Communications Workers of America is set for Nov. 12.


Information from: Albuquerque Journal, https://www.abqjournal.com

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