Jasper resort workers file for unionization

The 39 workers are employed in ski patrol, snow farming, ski dispatch, and avalanche control.

Earlier this week, the Alberta Labour Relations Board released their most recent New Applications Report. In the report is a new application for union certification in Alberta.

The application was filed on 18 April 2023 by Local 401 of the United Food and Commercial Workers. This union is applying on behalf of all all workers employed in ski safety operations and ski dispatch with RMSI-JTAC Equipment Holdings LP.

The Alberta-based employer operates the Marmot Basin ski resort and the Jasper SkyTram in Jasper National Park.

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According to the application, if the union certification is approved, it would apply to roughly 40 workers in ski patrol, snow farming, avalanche control, and ski dispatch.

I reached out to Chris O’Halloran, the executive director of UFCW Local 401, for more information on this unionization effort.

In a phone call interview, he said a strong internal working group of workers at Marmot Basin has been working on organizing their coworkers. They had reached out to several unions, but were most impressed with UFCW Local 401.

O’Halloran told The Alberta Worker that UFCW 401 presented themselves as a union that aggressively advocates for their members, more so than some of the other unions the workers had reached out to.

According to O’Halloran, it took only about two week from the time the workers reached out to UFCW 401 to when the certification application was filed. He reported that the workers had reached out to the union because they felt ignored by their employer.

The ALRB has scheduled a hearing for this application to occur on 2 May 2022, but O’Halloran is confident that the employer won’t impede organization by the workers, and the hearing may end up being unnecessary.

If the application is approved. The next step will be hold a vote for workers to approve the certification. If they vote in favour, O’Halloran hopes to have the first collective agreement in place for the next ski season later this year.

Despite the seasonal nature of the ski industry, O’Halloran claimed that most workers have worked at least one previous season at Marmot Basin. Even so, a collective agreement will benefit all workers mentioned above, including new or one-season workers.

Since the ALRB doesn’t archive their new application reports, here’s a copy of the most recent one.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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