Eldora Mountain Resort ski patrollers, medics will vote on whether to unionize

Nederland on Barker Reservoir with Eldora Mountain Behind
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The town of Nederland on Barker Reservoir with Eldora Mountain ski area in the background.

Updated: 6:13 p.m. 10/24

Ski patrollers and medics at Eldora Mountain Resort in Nederland have taken a step toward unionizing.

A majority of workers – 71 percent – signed cards Monday saying they were in favor of holding a union election. Workers are struggling to afford living costs and keep up with workload demands, said Jake Miller, a ski patroller who supports the election effort. 

“People get to a point where they need insurance, they need to be able to afford rent in Boulder County, and they just can't do that with the job we have,” Miller said. “We needed something to change.”

If successful, Eldora workers would join a growing number of unionized ski resorts in Colorado and across the country who belong to the United Professional Ski Patrols of America. Workers at Loveland Ski Area voted to unionize earlier this year in response to affordability issues. Resorts in Breckenridge and Steamboat Springs also have unionized patrollers. 

In a statement, Eldora said it opposed the union effort, but it would honor workers’ right to organize. 

“Eldora is committed to treating all of its employees with respect and dignity and to providing them with excellent benefits, optimum working conditions, and competitive wages,” the resort said. 

Pro-union patrollers and medics outlined their key hopes for the union campaign in a mission statement. They include addressing high turnover, increasing pay and improving staffing numbers. 

“Eldora has seen peak visitor numbers skyrocket since 2021 as a result of expanded parking capacity and unlimited ski days for IKON pass holders, all while staffing on patrol has remained stagnant,” workers wrote.

Eldora officials say 85 percent of workers have returned from last season and that they have added six paid patrollers since the 2020-2021 season. They also say their pay for ski patrol employees is competitive.

Ski resorts across Colorado raked in record visitation during last winter’s season. Nearly 15 million people visited the state’s largest resort areas, according to Colorado Ski Country USA. 

To win their election, Eldora workers must get approval from at least half of the resort’s 40 patrollers and medics.

Eldora staff will cast mail-in ballots over the next month, with results likely to come as the 2023/24 ski season kicks off. The National Labor Relations Board will count votes in late November. Monday’s vote was the first step of the process.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect further comments from Eldora.