Letter: If attitudes toward service workers don’t change, they might not be there one day

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sunset Springs Apartments in St. George on Wednesday May 3, 2023.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your excellent article about service workers struggling to afford housing, however, this is not the first time the issue has reared its ugly head. About 10 years ago, a similar complaint slipped through the cracks in Park City which almost exactly mirrored this one: restaurant employees, hotel staff and service workers paid miserable wages and thus unable to find housing.

These high end, and even moderately priced establishments pay the lowest wage possible — ironically in environments and locales which also have some of the highest tolerable housing and rental prices. Many employees have to sustain unconscionable commutes just to make ends meet. It’s called greed. A recent podcast revealed several Middle Eastern workers, who were “graciously” permitted to share a one-bedroom condo at a local ski resort. If memory serves, they were paying $700 each per month.

I worked at a popular Park City restaurant in the 1970s, and many of my co-workers were there simply because the wage paid for their season ski pass, and modest housing, and then some. Kiss those days goodbye. I am no math major, but it seems a healthy bump in staff wages, coupled with a moderate backing-off of “resort rate” hotels and apartments would be a wise choice.

How many “luxury” units sit vacant during the off seasons? How many of these units could be rented to service workers at an affordable rate? And I reiterate: affordable. Isn’t some money better than no money?

The times and attitudes need to change, or one morning they will find no cooks, no servers, no dishwashers, and no desk clerks. Good luck with that.

Lon Wray, West Valley City

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