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February 25, 2014

Cherokee Nation raising minimum rage

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation, one of the largest Native American tribes in the country, is raising its minimum wage by 50 cents, Chief Bill John Baker announced Monday.

Baker signed an executive order last week to boost the minimum wage for tribal employees to $9.50 over the next two years. The tribe’s current minimum wage is $9 per hour.

Employees with more than one year of service earning minimum wage will jump to $9.50 per hour on Oct. 1, which is the first day of fiscal year 2015. Workers with less than one year of service will see a staggered increase over the fiscal year.

Nearly 400 Cherokee Nation government employees will benefit from the increase, which amounts to more than $1,000 per year, the tribe said.

“We recognize that while the cost of goods and services has risen, wages have not, so we’re doing something about that. This wage increase will help more Oklahomans put food on the table, and rest easier about how to make ends meet,” Baker said in a statement. “It will also allow our employees more discretionary spending, which boosts the local economy.”

The increase will not impact Cherokee Nation Businesses, which oversees the tribe’s gaming and business enterprises. The minimum wage for those employees is currently $9.36 an hour. Baker is calling on the Cherokee Nation Businesses’ board of directors to consider increasing the minimum wage as well.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25. President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are seeking to increase it to $10.10 hourly by 2016.

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