The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council voted to amend a proposed minimum wage law before passing the measure, which will increase the minimum wage at Cherokee Nation and its majority owned businesses to $8 per hour. The amendments narrowed the scope of the act and included exceptions similar to the exceptions in the federal minimum wage law.
The measure passed by a margin of 11-6, even though all Council members were supportive of the concept of raising the minimum wage. Many people, including employees from Cherokee Nation Industries, thought the full impact of the proposal needed more study.
“We’ve got people who’ve worked three years to get to $8 an hour,” said Betty Sue Scott, a 26-year employee of CNI. “Those people are a lot better (at their jobs) than a new employee. If the new people come in at $8 an hour, then everyone else deserves the same kind of raise.”
The costs of raising the minimum wage to $8 was originally projected at less than $1 million a year by Councilman Bill John Baker, who admitted the numbers had changed and may be more than $1 million per year now. That figure did not include raises for anyone making more than $8 an hour currently.