As Vail Resorts petition hits 40,000 signatures, author asks Epic Pass holders to cancel ‘auto-renew’

Sunday update to page calls for pass holders to take action Tuesday

A massive crowd forms at the bottom of Blue Sky Basin in Vail on its first day of opening for the 2021-22 season Jan. 9. At the time, Blue Sky Basin had only one lift operating, but a second has since opened.
John LaConte/Vail Daily

As the petition to “Hold Vail Resorts accountable” for alleged ski area mismanagement this season reached 40,000 signatures Sunday, an update from page manager Jeremy Rubingh was posted with a new call to action.

Rubingh, on Sunday, put out a request for Epic Pass users to email Tuesday with a request to disengage the auto-renew option on their Epic Pass.

“Please join us on January 18th by sending a message stating that you’d like to cancel your pass ‘auto-renew,'” Rubingh wrote in the Sunday update. “Even if you don’t have the auto-renew activated, you can send an email to explaining why you will not be renewing your pass.”

Rubingh described the action as “a great next step” toward a goal of better pay and treatment of Vail Resorts employees.

‘Within the next two weeks’

The original petition, which had 40,037 signatures as of Sunday evening, was focused on Stevens Pass ski area in Washington, which, according to its website as of Sunday, has only 35% of its terrain currently available to skiers, with 27 of 77 trails open. The lack of terrain openings resulted in massive liftlines over the holidays.

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According to the petition, “Vail Resorts needs to commit to returning 60% of the cost of a season’s pass to all pass holders unless this problem is addressed immediately (by January 15th).”

In the Jan. 16 update, Rubingh addressed the fact that Vail Resorts has responded to the petition.

“They have hired a new interim General Manager, Tom Fortune, who grew up skiing at Stevens and knows what we expect of operations and access to our mountain … Still, they haven’t actually solved the problem at Stevens Pass yet and we remain vigilant in holding Vail Resorts accountable,” Rubingh wrote. “Weather conditions at Stevens Pass left the road closed for a week starting on January 6th with limited access to the ski resort. However, now the road is open, and changes have been promised. We need to see more staff hired and the majority of terrain open and lifts running, including the Mill Valley side, within the next two weeks, otherwise this has all been merely optics by Vail Resorts to attempt to quell our movement.”

Opinions on the bonus

While the movement started at Steven’s Pass, it quickly spread to other Vail Resorts-operated ski areas.

Stories about the movement made the front page of the Seattle Times and the front page of Wall Street Journal’s B section.

On Jan. 11, Vail Resorts CEO Kirstin Lynch said employees who stick with the company through the end of the season will receive a $2 per hour bonus for all hours worked after Jan. 1.

Rubingh, in Sunday’s petition update, said while the bonus doesn’t amount to a whole lot for most employees, it’s “a start in the right direction.”

The front page of the Wall Street Journal’s B section from the Jan. 15-16 weekend.
Courtesy image

Lynch told the Wall Street Journal she also believes the bonus is a step in the right direction.

“Is this going to make everything perfect? Absolutely not,” Lynch said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Friday. “But is this a step in the right direction? And that I hear you and that I’m willing to take action to address it? Yes, I believe that it is. And as I said, we’re always willing to hear and change and pivot.”

On Wall Street, investment bank Truist Securities, which has an analyst assigned to Vail Resorts, offered an opinion following Lynch’s message to employees announcing the bonus.

“This is an action that probably should have been done earlier in the season but it is better late than never,” wrote Truist’s Patrick Scholes, a travel and leisure analyst who covers Vail Resorts stock. “That said, from anecdotal conversations, an additional $2/hour, especially for newly hired hourly employees, is still not fully competitive in many markets.”

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