Last week Mammoth Mountain Ski Area (MMSA) broke the bad news privately to its international employees: after a lengthy battle to secure H-2B Foreign Labor Certification, the Mountain had decided to withdraw its application. MMSA informed the Department of Labor (DOL) of its decision this Monday, Nov. 28.
“We wish the outcome was different,” said MMSA Senior Vice President Pam Murphy, “but this has been a process where we’ve been fighting the whole time.”
As The Sheet reported in early November, the Mountain’s first application for an H-2B Certification, which allows MMSA to employ non-student international workers, was denied by the DOL after a protracted application process. MMSA decided to apply a second time in the hopes that international employees might still return to work in January or February of 2012.
Wednesday of last week, the DOL sent the Mountain a Request for Information (RFI). “It’s not like [the information] they were asking for was impossible to get,” explained Murphy, “but some of it felt like delay tactics.” Murphy and others were suspicious of the date the RFI was sent to the Mountain—a day before Thanksgiving—when the Mountain only had a certain number of days to respond. In the end, Murphy said, MMSA decided that its chances of securing an H-2B Certification were so slim that it had no other choice than to withdraw. “Their RFI caused a further delay so we wouldn’t be able to get staff in in a timely way even if the application was approved,” Murphy said.
Most of the international staff contacted were, “very understanding,” said Murphy. “They thanked us for going the extra mile.”
Some domestic staff, however, expressed their disapproval of the H-2B program and may view the withdrawal as a victory (for more on that, see the full story in this week’s paper).
As for whether MMSA will apply for an H-2B Certification next year, Murphy said she wasn’t sure: “I think the government isn’t very much for the program at this time. But we’ll definitely watch the political environment and apply again if we think there’s the opportunity to get [certification].”