A 20-year instructor with the Aspen Skiing Co. last month filed his second complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against the company in as many years.
James Cohen alleges that the company on Feb. 23 told employees that they did not receive their annual bonuses “because employees had filed charges with the NLRB in 2011.”
The filing also says that on March 12, SkiCo officials told staff that “they could not make any false statement in public about the company or they would face termination” and that “any communication about terms and conditions of employment that offended or upset other employees was grounds for discipline.”
But SkiCo’s attorney, Brian Mumaugh of Denver, said those accusations are inaccurate and called the complaint itself “much ado about nothing.”
Cohen, who teaches at Buttermilk, was disciplined for treating co-workers in a “threatening and disrespectful” manner that was inconsistent with SkiCo culture, Mumaugh said.
He said Cohen received coaching after having “less-than-pleasant” conversations with fellow employees.
“You have to treat people with dignity and respect,” Mumaugh said, adding that Cohen claims he was discussing organizing a labor union for instructors as a way of distracting from “his own misconduct.”
Cohen said Friday that labor discussions had nothing to do with his recent complaint, which was filed Sept. 10. He is a longtime “team leader” and member of a special committee known as a “pro council” that handles employee matters including wages and grievances.
He also said his supervisors only listened to the employees who complained about him.
“They talk about my tone but they’ve never tried to get my side of the story,” Cohen said. “They cite some instances where people’s feelings were hurt, but they never asked me my side. How is that fair?”
In 2011, Cohen filed two charges with the NLRB against the SkiCo, one of which alleged that ski school managers Georgie Brimner and Katie Ertl told him he was in a probationary “corrective coaching” status that restricted, under threat of termination, who he could speak to about terms and conditions of employment.
The case was settled, and the SkiCo sent to employees a NLRB notice, signed by Jim Laing, the company’s vice president of human resources, about the instructor. It said the company was rescinding the “terms of James Cohen’s corrective coaching program that restrict who [he] may speak to about wages, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment, as contained within his April 12, 2010, correctional coaching document.”
As for the present case, Cohen called it an internal matter and was reluctant to speak about it.
But he said SkiCo is characterizing his conduct as if he “was yelling at someone, and it’s just not the case.”
Mumaugh said he is confident NLRB regional officials in Denver will resolve the matter in SkiCo’s favor.
Cohen’s complaint last month “kind of left us scratching our heads,” he said.