TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council approved a minimum wage act that will increase the minimum salary paid to the tribe's employees to $9 per hour by 2008.
The first phase of the increase, which was approved at Monday night's council meeting, will increase the minimum salary to $7.50 after Jan. 1. The second phase will increase to $9 per hour in 2008.
Tribal Councilor Jack Baker said the wage increase will be prorated to benefit employees with more experience.
"We had a concern for our long-term employees, and we wanted to be fair to those who had more experience in their positions," Baker said. "Under this plan, we are able to help more employees while still compensating those with experience."
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith vetoed a previous attempt to hike the minimum wage for tribal workers in September, saying that version would not fairly compensate veteran employees.
"The Cherokee Nation cares about all employees, and this legislation is a fair way to help all of them, both new employees and our many long-term employees," Smith said Tuesday.