Editorial: Treating workers right | SierraSun.com

Editorial: Treating workers right

International workers crammed three or more to a room; workers standing in freezing temperatures hoping for a ride to work; seasonal employees cooking over motel hot plates: That’s the ski resort lifestyle for many workers in the area, and for some their only taste of the United States.

When ski resorts recruit workers in nations across the globe, and then skimp on transportation and employee housing upon their arrival, the above is often the result.

In a series of interviews with international ski resort workers, the Sierra Sun found that many live in sub-par housing conditions and get to work every day by waving their thumbs in front of passing cars.

These people ” from Ghana, Chile, Argentina, England and Jamaica, to name a few ” are the cogs that help turn the multi-billion dollar ski machine. While ski resorts across Tahoe are raking in enough money to pour millions of dollars into upgrading their mountains, their villages or their lodging, only a few resorts are willing to put the money into treating their employees right.

Resorts should take a cue from Northstar-at-Tahoe ” a resort that rewards locals who house its employees, provides transportation for its workers and is building real employee housing.

Or they should follow Sugar Bowl’s example, which runs buses for employees and gives them the option of choosing to live in employee housing. Sugar Bowl is by far the leader in the number of employee housing units offered by area resorts with the ability to put up approximately 160 employees on Donner Summit.

Sure, not every resort has the conditions that allow Northstar to build employee housing ” huge tracts of private land and massive development plans.

But for every resort there is an opportunity to take responsibility for the workers who pay thousands of dollars to fly in from distant countries and work the ski season. Resorts that can’t get employee housing on the ground can offer a housing stipend, pay the first month’s rent or line up rentals ahead of time.

Taking no responsibility, or passing the buck to a visa agency or the local community, should not be an option.

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