Aspen School Seeks Replacement for Team Leader System

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SAM Magazine-Aspen, Colo., Sept. 30, 2011-The Aspen Skiing Co. is seeking a new structure to replace the snowsport school's Team Leader system and maintain open lines of communication within the school. The Team Leader system was developed 18 years ago as part of management's efforts to derail a move to unionize the school. However, the National Labor Relations Board recently ruled that the program violates labor regulations, and the team leader positions have been eliminated.

The school now aims to "develop a new system that will encourage the continued culture of collaboration and communication," said Katie Ertl, managing director of the ski school, in an email to instructors. To that end, the school has already held two meetings with instructors and plans more, according to the Aspen Times.

The Team Leader system was adopted in 1993 as part of several steps taken to improve relations between the Skiing Co. and the instructors, and to make the school one of the best in the nation. The leaders, elected by their fellow instructors, represented different divisions of the school, as well as the company's different resorts (Snowmass, Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands, and Aspen) and served on several advisory boards, along with management representatives.

The NLRB ruling was spurred by former ski instructor Lee Mulcahy, who claimed he was fired for trying to start a union. The NLRB investigated and found otherwise, but said changes were needed to the Team Leader program so that the Skiing Co., can't "dominate, assist or otherwise support" the advisory boards.



The silence is deafening by Johnny Boyd, Aspen Daily News Columnist Monday, December 17, 2012 The sale of the Snowmass Lodge and Club to the Toll Brothers creates more questions than answers in Snowmass. The lack of developable land would disqualify this venture from the definition of an extreme money-maker. The only true benefit that I can see is that it gives maverick artist Lee Mulcahy one more place he can visit without fear of arrest. Money can’t buy the lack of headlines. Lee Mulcahy’s ongoing drama is exposing Aspen for what it is — a town with an amazing lack of balls. The idea that Aspen could sit back complacently and allow one person to be persecuted by the most powerful interests in town is reprehensible. Aspen used to rebel against the company town image, now it defines it. The silence from the community appears to condone the loss of rights by one of its members. Does this mean the loss of rights by anyone the company deems unfit is acceptable? The SkiCo has attempted this crap before with Dan Dunn and the chick formerly known as The Princess. In both of those instances it had the power to pull the offender’s ski pass and fire them. What’s next? Nothing justifies a total ban from public lands of any taxpaying American. SkiCo can keep Mulcahy from riding its lifts, but hiking on national forest land? I’d love to see the lease that says a taxpayer can’t use his own land because the corporation that leases it says so. If such a lease exists, as a taxpayer I want that clause removed the next time America renews it. It appears that the Forest Service is as ball-less in the face of billionaires as the company town. Perhaps Mulcahy has used the wrong rhetoric to describe his fight against the SkiCo. On his Facebook page he urged everyone to attend his recent hearing by likening it to the “gunfight at the OK Corral.” Anyone who read the report on that court appearance would never compare it to the infamous Tombstone shoot out. It was SkiCo executives who engaged in histrionics about how scared they are of Lee Mulcahy. It was Mulcahy making impassioned speeches to tolerate his protest in the name of free speech and protecting his rights. It was a judge showing amazing common sense in shooting down (sorry SkiCo, hope that didn’t scare you) the restraining order the SkiCo was seeking. Mulcahy’s fight with the SkiCo was nothing like the battle between the Clantons and the Earps, although “Earp” might describe the noise SkiCo executives squeaked when Mulcahy showed up with his Alamo trailer. Mulcahy may well become an Aspen legend. He is suing a billionaire for a dollar. Do I need to repeat that? He is suing a billionaire for a dollar! That’s the best punch line to the stupidest joke I’ve ever heard and the billionaire is taking it seriously and sending out an armada of high-priced attorneys to fight him. The entertainment value from this lawsuit alone will keep this column stoked with subject matter for years. In a civilized society the ability to criticize our masters is the last bastion of freedom. It’s obvious that the SkiCo’s intent is to silence any dissent in its ranks and the community by culling one poor sap from the herd and destroying his rights completely. The complete silence by the other lambs headed for slaughter is deafening. Even if you think Mulcahy is an ass, you should stand up for his right to be one without being stripped of basic freedoms. I have to give Lee Mulcahy credit. He has protested for his rights instead of slinking away after the corporation exiled him. The restraining order against him at the Aspen Institute proves that he isn’t about to stop. He has fought valiantly against overwhelming odds with little backing from anyone except a few friends. The lack of support for such a brave individual illustrates how few brave individuals there are. When they come for you, don’t whine because you didn’t speak out. Don’t be part of the herd. Speak up. The SkiCo can’t be allowed to single out citizens for punishment. It’s petty. It’s cowardly. It’s unconstitutional. It’s embarrassing. It’s going to make a great movie after I’m done writing the screenplay. Working title: “Aspen: The Quiet Fears.” Grow a pair, Aspen. Email Johnny at


Let's be clear on the facts. This is what I charged on Nov 24, 2010:

In 1993, in response to a Union campaign, the Employer unlawfully created its own labor organization and continues to
the present day to dominate, interfere with the administration of, and contribute financial support to the labor
The Employer established and continues to maintain a Team Leader, Pro Council, and Advisory Board structure for the
employees, for the express purpose of dealing with the Employer by presenting grievances, discussing wages, benefits,
discipline, and other terms and conditions of employment. Team Leaders receive higher pay for representing
employees on their team. The Employer has the ability to define the qualifications necessary to serve as a Team
Leader, Pro Council member, or Advisory Board member, may remove team leaders from their positions, and
establishes the election procedures for these groups.