Voluntyranny – So you are a parent of a High Schooler and a Junior High student. You work a regular job and your spouse does as well. Despite that you find it hard to afford the skiing recreation that so many associate with Vermont. So you hear about the Ambassadors Program. Simply ‘volunteer’ twenty two days as an ambassador and you get a season’s pass for a great ski area for no charge…$1,000 or more of skiing! Wow, finally a solution I can afford? Or can you? Do you know that receipt of that pass is taxable per the IRS? Did you know your volunteer hours are not deductible against those taxes due? Do you know these same corporations likely ‘expense’ those passes against their income which they receive all the while many of those ‘volunteers’ are doing free labor? 22 days, 8 hours a day = 176 hours. That, divided by $1000 = $5.68 an hour. I believe that is less than the minimum wage…and therefore, illegal.
Join us and watch Paul Burroughs and Denis O’Brien take us on a on a wild ride inside the sham of a volunteer system promoted by these corporations, many of them owned by billionaires. What we find out is that people get hurt and they’re not covered. The corporations avoid massive tax and insurance obligations and the Department of Labor here in Vermont is looking the other way
It started out as a novel idea. Get a few folks who live nearby, have them serve as ambassadors. The first ones were mountain ambassadors, literally showing you around the mountain that they loved. I was actually helped by one last year at Stowe. Especially older folks with no kids at home, and they loved to ski. Then it expanded when the ski areas realized they could gain from this, issued more fake currency, season’s passes, and brought on hundreds and hundreds of these invisible employees In Vermont. Killington has over 300 of them and Stratton and Stowe have them in the hundreds as well. Eyeballing the rest of the country, this is wide-spread and creates some very interesting questions, especially when they are parking cars, working in the lodge and other such ‘ambassador-worthy tasks.
It seems this kind of volunteerism is actually an employer /employee relationship. These Big Ski Corps are exploiting those less fortunate, evading taxes and creating servitude in the name of altruism….In short, you work for free, we benefit and in turn we hire less people. No benefits, no job security, no tax withholding, when in fact you do have to CLAIM the receipt of the ticket, however you cannot claim that you worked for it, thus the AMBASSADOR is liable for taxes on the pass and the Ski Giant is off the hook….You, well you get $5.68 an hour and place to leave your skis during the week.
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