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Old 05-12-2006   #1
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 212
Who you choose to guide for in Colorado

I just want to share a totally uncool experience I had with Lakota Guides so they realize there are repercussions to treating an employee the way I was treated. I assure you what I am sharing is not slander or libel, I'm just giving the facts. Although I'm over it now, I was pretty pissed at the time this all went down. I share the story so you can make an educated decision on who you choose to work for.

Here's the story.

I worked for Lakota, out of their Aspen office in the Spring and early Summer of 2005, until the new owner decided to close the Aspen operation. I was a responsible guide, always on time, doing more than my job required, and I even spent time in town trying to market the Aspen office. The point is, this is not an issue of poor performance. When the office closed in July no effort was made to contact the Aspen guides individually and no offer was made to provide references or find work with other outfitters. Okay, so lots of managers and owners of raft companies aren't good businessmen. This is just a lousy situation.

The primary issue was that I worked two trips in July for which I didn't get paid. I called and spoke to both the operations manager (Karl Borski) and the owner (Leslie Mashburn) on several occasions and politey inquired about my check and when it might be sent. Both of them flat out lied to me and said it would be put in the mail on the next billing cycle. Each time I called, nothing would come in the mail in the following weeks. I have my phone records to prove how many times I called Lakota's office. I think after the fifth call, which I was still polite and totally professional, I realized I wasn't going to get paid. I had to go so far as to file a complaint with the State of Colorado Division of Labor for non-payment. I think I filed the letter some time in September. The letter I got back from the State said they were unable to resolve my claim after contacting Lakota. I received this letter in December of 2005. A few days later I finally received a check from Lakota paying me in full for those two trips.

What bothers me most is that these guys lied to me and had no intention of ever paying me until the State got involved. I have the letter I sent to the State and the letter I received from the State to prove what I'm saying is true... in the event any Lakota staff would try to discredit what I'm saying. I definitely met some cool guides at Lakota and I'm sure many of those guides have had good experiences there, but just consider if you want to take the chance of being treated without honesty, respect, or professionalism by the manager and owner.

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Old 05-12-2006   #2
tango's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 690
i have gone through somewhat similar difficulties getting paid from the rafting company that i worked for over the past few years on the arkansas. it never escalated to the degree of the story posted about lakota though. it shouldn't be like pulling teeth to receive the pay you've worked hard for. there are some serious greed-heads around the river-running industry, but the river karma will catch up to them. the situation that i ran into entailed the owner thinking that we guides are a dime a dozen, and that unless you kick and scream and rant and rave, the wages you were promised will more than likely be short when payday finally comes around.

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Old 05-13-2006   #3
JCKeck1's Avatar
Seattle, Washington
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,471
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Yo, I went through that exact same situation with the downtown BV company a couple years back. Took me a lawyer and 9 months to get a rent-a-guide check. My two points would be: demand cash up-front for rent-a-guiding and the free Student Legal Services you get for being enrolled at CU are amazing. Sounds like these points wouldn't have helped with Lakota, but be assured that many, many raft companies out there are schiesters. The profit margin is slim and the best way to improve it is to cut employee wages.
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