Aspen Professional Ski Patrol Association
What is APSPA?
The Aspen Professional Ski Patrol Association (APSPA) is a legal entity, a collective bargaining unit. We were certified in 1986 by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after a Board sponsored secret ballot election where a majority of patrollers in the proposed unit chose to "organize". APSPA includes all the patrollers at the Aspen ski areas except for patrol directors, assistants and supervisors, who are considered to be management by the NLRB.
In 1986 we organized to protect ourselves from a management team who saw the cutting of employee pay and benefits as a way to meet the owners' demand for cost reductions while enhancing management's own compensation package. Many things had been taken away when we returned to work in the fall of 1985. These included a profit sharing plan, equipment allowances, part of the health insurance benefit and pay raises. These losses affected our lives and families. Never again would we find out after the fact that benefits had been taken away. We now had the opportunity to negotiate for the benefits that were lost. With patience, we did this and more.
As a certified bargaining unit we came under the National Labor Relations Act and the company's management was legally obligated to negotiate "in good faith" over any changes in the terms and conditions of our employment.
Any business that engages in interstate commerce--and most ski areas do--must comply with the National Labor Relations Act. The Act referees interaction between management and labor. A fundamental principal of the Act is the employees' right to organize and bargain collectively with their employer. Any group of employees who share a common interest can ask the NLRB to conduct an election and, with a majority, become a certified bargaining unit. Although this sounds easy most employers resent such action by their workers and will do what they can to discourage it. It takes some resolve among the employees of the proposed group to succeed.
How to Negotiate?
Many books have been written on this topic. It takes a desire to acquire the skills of a good negotiator, a knowledge of how the process works and much more. We initially had the help of a professional negotiator from the American Federation of Teachers. We learned that we could do it and be good at it. Yes, it can get confrontational but it's best when you can achieve an atmosphere of co-operation. The goal is a written, signed "agreement" that both sides can live with and prosper under.
What about other Patrols?
Others have organized: Crested Butte, Keystone, Steamboat Springs, The Canyons, Killington and Breckenridge. Crested Butte, Steamboat Springs and The Canyons are currently affiliated with the Communication Workers of America (CWA).
Union members earn more money, have better benefits, are more productive and have greater job security than nonunion workersType your paragraph here.