We had a lot of feedback this week – mostly stemming from the various errors I made. In the Mirage Factory review, I mistakenly had the aqueduct completed in 1915 versus 1913. And had it Aimee Temple McPherson versus Aimee Semple McPherson.
And then in the coverage of Mammoth’s Main Lodge Redevelopment story, I wrote, “On a side note, Cohen did say the starting wage at Mammoth Mountain this year has been increased to $20/hour and that overall, there’s been a double-digit increase percentage-wise in wage growth at the company – well over inflation.”
That was wrong. Cohen said “almost all” positions had been increased to $20.
But not before the side note had ticked off one reader, who works in Mammoth’s Host department.
This Mammoth Resorts employee wrote, “Here’s the inside scoop and dirty little secret about Mammoth Resorts finally responding to what’s known as “the Vail” pay raise:
Cohen’s comments fail to mention that all Mammoth Resort employees did NOT receive the bump to $20 per. Some Alterra bean counter decided to exclude all employees who receive gratuities. This means nearly all Levy food service workers. And their broadened definition of “gratuities” excluded the entire Host Guest Services employees who do not actually receive tips. Trust me. Still at $16.”
This person then forwarded me a letter to all Hosts sent last month by Guest Services Director Anna Allen:
You should expect to be hearing from Mammoth Mountain’s HR department with your rehire letters soon. The management team is all looking forward to another great season you, plus some very outstanding new Hosts being interviewed now.
At the Town Hall meeting, pay rates were announced. As you heard, most departments are starting their pay significantly higher this season, at $20/hour. I do believe there was mention of “tipped” positions starting lower, at $16/hour. The Host program is a very unique department built upon an amazing personality within our group. We search for employees with life experiences to share with our guests and who typically are not interested, or in need of, compensation to live on. Most of you receive other types of compensation in addition to the typically meager paychecks earned in your part time roles. I hope you know your pay checks are not meant to reflect your value. There is no way Mammoth can compensate you anywhere near your value. Instead, we look to offer appreciation in many other ways, including finding ways to regularly recognize your incredible talents at making Mammoth, Tamarack and June a warm, loved location.
Because of who you are and how you are compensated, including your employee benefits equal to all other employees working part time, 3 day per week seasonally, you are also offered the opportunity to share Mammoth and June Mountains at a deeply discounted rate (vouchers for $80 per adult guest). For this reason, regular Host roles are considered “tipped.” The price of your vouchers are determined by the standard number of hours a Mountain Host works in a regular day (5 hours), times your pay rate, hence the cost of an adult voucher at $80 this year, reflecting the new hourly rate of $16.
Most of you are aware, this program started as a volunteer program meant to highlight guests who now wanted to share Mammoth with new guests. The purpose of the Hosts has not changed, but California forced our industry to abandon volunteer positions, mandating a paycheck instead, in 1996. Rather than throwing our program out with the ruling, Mammoth recognized our value was too great and created our pay system, continually evolving, based on the current minimum wage. The Resort has also allowed our program to classify your roles as the better benefitted 3 days/week role, recognizing you all for your value.
Besides your amazing passions and skills in helping our guests, the Host program also recognizes most of you do not need or want to work full time. To accommodate the opportunity to share what you have to offer in a very non-traditional schedule, I have created a very flexible scheduling program. This other unique attribute of being a Host is also why you are compensated differently. Once again, it is not a reflection of your value, but how we can manage to hire a significant number of like-minded passionate Hosts to cover so many locations and roles. I do realize many of you do not use many vouchers, and some of you do not use any. Using vouchers is a personal decision but does not change how most Hosts are paid …
I look at this letter and it sure sounds like Mammoth has decided on a ‘one size fits all’ determination for this classification of employee, based on the presumption that most hosts don’t really need the money, that it started as a volunteer program, that it’s a part-time gig, et. al.
But work is work.
Why should a host make less money based on the presumption he/she doesn’t need it, but a lift attendant or call center employee gets the $20, even if they’re from a family of means?
Is it really worth making such delineations amongst frontline positions just to save a few bucks.
And is it really a tipped position when the “tip” benefit doesn’t put money in your pocket, but rather, costs you five hours of your time?
Mammoth may wish to rethink this.