Union protest in Breckenridge targets Vail Resorts | VailDaily.com

Union protest in Breckenridge targets Vail Resorts

Robert Allen
Breckenridge, CO Colorado
Summit Daily/Mark FoxCarpenters with a labor dispute had a sign up that said "Shame on Vail Resorts" at the base of Peak 8 in Breckenridge, Colorado this week.

BRECKENRIDGE, Colorado ” A banner of protest near the base of Peak 8 at Breckenridge Ski Resort represents a statewide labor dispute between the carpenters’ union and Spacecon Specialty Contractors.

The banner that says “Shame on Vail Resorts, Inc.” first appeared near the One Ski Hill Place construction site on Ski Hill Road last week.

Breckenridge Resort spokeswoman Kristen Petitt said in an e-mail only that the dispute regards the union, Spacecon and PCL Construction.

Dave Wilson, a spokesman for the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, said Spacecon is paying employees less than the “area standard” and not providing sufficient access to health care and pension benefits.

“It really is sad when you see how the workers are affected by this,” he said. “Barely being able to make ends meet ” it’s just terrible.”

Spacecon president John Banks e-mailed a statement regarding the dispute. It said the banner in Breckenridge is “the latest in an unjust, smear campaign” by the Carpenters Union Local 55 to advance a “narrow special interest agenda to damage the business and reputation of SSC.”

“SSC remains committed to providing wages and benefits in line with the current economic environment and standards in all markets served,” according to the Spacecon statement.

Wilson said the “area standard wage” for these workers ” who hang drywall and place metal studs ” is about $26.15 per hour (including $4.25 for family health care and 38 cents for training or apprenticeship).

Wilson said Spacecon employees are reporting wages from $16.50 to $18 per hour. The Summit Daily asked Banks whether this is true and did not receive a response by press time.

A similar dispute involving the union and contractor in Aspen has been under way for more than a year, according to reports in the Aspen Daily News.

Wilson said the banner in Breckenridge will appear consistently for “the foreseeable future.”

He said about 14 others at work sites from The Four Seasons in downtown Denver to Goodwill Industries refer to Spacecon.

“They’ve really picked up a lot of work, and we feel that it’s an unfair advantage,” Wilson said.

Banks also did not respond to a question of how many Spacecon workers are on the One Ski Hill Place site.

Wilson said that with dry-walling just beginning, there probably aren’t many. But at the peak of the dry-walling phase, such a project usually warrants as many as 50 workers on the site.

He said the union has received no response from Vail Resorts to letters regarding its concerns.

“We’re prepared to escalate this area-standards campaign if the area doesn’t get the message,” Wilson said.

PCL Construction, the project’s general contractor, did not respond by press time to a phone call seeking comment.

One Ski Hill Place is expected to be complete by spring 2010. It will be about 250,000 square feet and include 88 condominiums as well as a two-lane bowling alley, conference center and underground parking, according to the PCL Construction website at pcl.com.

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or rallen@summitdaily.com.

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