Stevens Pass hopes to address staffing shortages with $20 minimum wage, announces opening day

Aug 24, 2022, 12:18 PM

stevens pass...

The slopes await for skiers and snowboarders alike at area mountain passes this week. (MyNorthwest photo)

(MyNorthwest photo)

After last year’s rocky start to the ski season led to frustrations over terrain closure, limited service, and long lines, Stevens Pass General Manager Ellen Galbraith is hopeful for a smoother run this year by addressing staffing shortages head-on.

“We did have trouble getting staffed up last year. We are doing everything we can to not have that be the case this year,” Galbraith said. “It is our primary focus. It is what we are doing every day. It’s what we’re focused on. And we’re all working on this together.”

Stevens Pass, Snoqualmie Pass reopen after early Monday closures

In an announcement in March, Vail Resorts said, for the 2023-24 season, their new minimum wage for all staff would be $20 an hour, a five-dollar increase over the previous minimum wage from last winter season. The hope is that the increased compensation will be competitive and help to attract workers to the ski area, which is set to prevent issues with attracting workers from last season, Galbraith said.

Last year, the Vail Resorts-owned ski area faced criticism over not having the staff to run all of its ski lifts, which led to the creation of a petition to hold the ski area accountable.

“We are disgusted with the mismanagement of the ski area, the failure to treat employees well, or pay them a livable wage, and the failure to deliver the product we all paid for and bought with hard-earned money during a pandemic,” the petition states.

The petition got over 46,000 signatures and gained so much traction that the Attorney General’s office started collecting complaints against Vail Resorts.

The problems facing Stevens Pass are not new or uncommon in the industry as a whole, with long-time locals being priced out of ski towns across the country as housing prices skyrocket, leaving low-wage employees running food services and resort operations looking for housing. As a way to combat this, Galbraith said that the resort works to provide shuttle services for employees that live further away, as well as connect employees to housing opportunities.

“We do run employee shuttles from both the east and west side of the pass to help get people to the pass,” Galbraith said. “Stevens Pass has been signing leases. We have some of the same properties we had last year, and we are signing additional leases to master lease properties that we internally leased to our employees. In addition to that, we have a Facebook page where our employees can join and meet up with each other if they so choose, and go after rentals.”

A big part of the push for staffing comes from the community, Galbraith said, with the community being a big part of how they expect to get the mountain fully staffed so that everyone can have a fun season.

“I think we want to be fully staffed as much as our guests want us to be fully staffed,” Galbraith concluded. “So we want to leverage our community that’s engaged and asks for help to spread the word if a neighbor, nephew, or a friend who’s looking for work might be interested in coming to Stevens Pass. The more help we can get from our skiers and riders as we look forward to the winter, the better.”

According to Stevens Pass officials, they have penciled in an opening date of Friday, Dec. 2, but that date could change depending on how the weather cooperates with the ski area.

Once lift tickets go on sale, they will be limited in quantity to allow for a better experience for guests on the mountain.

MyNorthwest News

Image: Members of the Makah Indian tribe paddle away from the rising sun as they head from Neah Bay...

Associated Press

Washington’s Makah Tribe clears major hurdle toward resuming traditional whale hunts

The U.S. granted the Makah Indian Tribe a long-sought waiver that helps clear the way for its first sanctioned whale hunts since 1999.

3 hours ago

Image: Boxes of the drug mifepristone sit on a shelf at the West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloo...

Associated Press

Unanimous Supreme Court preserves access to widely used abortion medication

The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously preserved access to an abortion medication that was used in nearly two-thirds of U.S. procedures.

4 hours ago

starbucks supreme court...

Associated Press

Supreme Court, siding with Starbucks, makes it harder for NLRB to win court orders in labor disputes

The Supreme Court case began in February 2022, when Starbucks fired seven workers who were trying to unionize their Tennessee store.

5 hours ago

seattle FBI...

Frank Sumrall

SWAT arrests armed woman after she barricades herself inside Seattle FBI building

An armed woman barricaded herself in the visitor lobby of the FBI Seattle building in downtown Seattle Wednesday afternoon.

7 hours ago

windshield hammer...

Frank Sumrall

Customer threats cause Seattle barista to smash customer’s windshield with hammer

A barista in South Seattle used a hammer to bash in a customer’s windshield after he allegedly threatened her and the coffee stand's customers.

8 hours ago

uw president cauce...

Frank Sumrall

UW President Ana Mari Cauce to step down after 10 years

UW President Ana Mari Cauce will step down from leading the university once her second five-year term ends in June 2025.

1 day ago

Stevens Pass hopes to address staffing shortages with $20 minimum wage, announces opening day