Taos Ski Valley raises pay for employees to meet local living-wage benchmark
The New Mexico ski resort has hiked its minimum wage to $15 per hour to exceed the living-wage standard for Taos County
Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.
In response to a growing national call for minimum wage increases and greater pay transparency across a range of industries, ski resort operators are stepping up.
This week, Taos Ski Valley announced a hike to its minimum wage—up to $15 per hour—in order to meet living-wage requirements of the county in which the business is located, company representatives announced in a release. The wage increase went into effect earlier this summer for housekeepers and dishwashers, according to Dawn Boulware, the company’s vice president of social and environmental responsibility. The remaining staff will see the change reflected in their first October paychecks, at the start of the company’s fiscal year.
“The wage increase affects all current and new hires,” Boulware tells Outside Business Journal. “Returning staff making $18.50 per hour and below will be adjusted according to a wage compression schedule with the first payroll in October.”
Taos Ski Valley—which in 2017 became the only B Corp-certified ski operator in the world—confirmed that the wage adjustment will “exceed the living wage of $14.94 for Taos County, as stated by the MIT Living Wage Calculator.”
“We made a commitment to pay our staff a living wage several years ago and have continually updated our pay scale accordingly and do an annual pay equity analysis,” says Boulware. “In addition to wage increases, we’re investing in diversity, equity, and inclusion training and expanding programs like insurance and housing.”
The news comes just a month after Vail Resorts enacted a similar $15 minimum wage at several of its properties, including Vail Mountain, Breckenridge Ski Resort, and Park City Mountain. Starting in the 2021/22 season, Vail will implement its new minimum wage at 10 resorts across Colorado, California, Utah, and Washington, and will also increase the minimum entry-level salaries by an average of 37 percent across its Eastern resorts.
“Talent and staffing is critical to our ongoing success,” says Lynanne Kunkel, chief human resources officer at Vail Resorts, when that news broke in July. “We are thrilled that, coming out of the uncertainty of last winter season, we are in a position to make such a substantial investment in our employees.”
More than just paychecks
The new wage bump isn’t the only measure Taos is planning to ensure its employees can afford to live where they work. This week, the resort also confirmed it will expand its affordable housing options for staff before the upcoming ski season.
According to company representatives, 70 rooms containing 100 beds in Taos Ski Valley are currently available for resort staff, with 40 more rooms being added this winter. The resort will also start offering year-round and seasonal staff 24-7 accident insurance starting in the 2021/22 season.
“We still have work to do,” says Boulware. “But we know step one is ensuring our staff have a living wage, a place to live, and a socially responsible and inclusive working environment.”
Company representatives wouldn’t disclose how the resort will pay for the wage increases, or how much the new standards will cost the business annually.
“As a B Corp, we are compelled to use business as a force for good and to put people over profits,” says Boulware. “Our commitment to pay a living wage is an extension of our B Corp ethos and is true to one of our cores values to care for our people.”