Vail Resorts to bump employee minimum wage -- but is it enough?


The wage gap continues to be a hot topic as Colorado-based Vail Resorts plans to bump its employees' minimum pay to $10 beginning Sept. 26. 

According to the Denver Post, the resort operator has properties in eight states, and employees across all of these locations will receive pay increases, varying from $1 over the minimum wage in California to $2.75 over the minimum in Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Additionally, the company will be basing these increases on inflation, reacting to state legislation should they raise the minimum wage above $10.

"We are taking this step because it is incumbent on us to do the right thing for our employees as well as remain competitive as an employer," Rob Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts, told the Denver Post.

Vail is not the first employer to buck the trend and increase its employee minimum wage above the national average, and is also not the first hotel operator to do so recently. In March the Portland Hilton Hotel and Executive Tower in Portland, Ore., signed a three-year contract to raise wages to $15.20 an hour by July 31, 2017. This deal comes with the removal of a proposal to schedule workers in shorter shifts, requiring eight-hour shifts.

This increase is in line with Los Angeles' proposed $15.37 per hour minimum wage scheduled to begin increasing this year, an initiative currently under fire by the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association. Both organizations have sued the city of Los Angeles, claiming it ignores federal labor law.

At the same time, while companies are offering increases they may not be enough. Case in point, The Park Record reported that Vail Resorts' wage initiative in Park City, Utah, still places employee pay below the town's average minimum wage. The Park Record cited new restaurants, hotels and retail stores offering employees starting wages in the range of $11 to $12.50 an hour, stating that while the increase may not be high it is a step in the right direction.