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Cherokee Nation Employees React To Minimum Wage Increase

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Amanda McKee is a single mom and excited about the jump in minimum wage pay. Amanda McKee is a single mom and excited about the jump in minimum wage pay.
Stacy Stayathome, Cherokee Nation employee. Stacy Stayathome, Cherokee Nation employee.
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker.

Nearly 400 Cherokee Nation employees are looking forward to a bump in their paychecks after an executive order will bring the minimum wage pay from $9 up to $9.50. That's far above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

But not all Cherokee Nation employees will see this increase. The executive order by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker only applies to government employees, but he is asking Cherokee Nation businesses to jump on board as well, so all minimum wage workers at the Hardrock Casino could see the increase in October.

2/24/2014 Related Story: Chief Raises Minimum Wage For Cherokee Nation Employees

Amanda McKee works hard every day, fielding calls that come into the Cherokee Nation headquarters. She makes $9.00 an hour, the current minimum wage for Tribal employees.

But come October 1st, the minimum wage will rise to $9.50 thanks to an executive order recently signed by Cherokee Chief Bill John Baker.

"Somebody making $9.00 an hour, it will put about $1000 in their pocket over a year," Baker said.

For McKee, that $1000 can directly go towards helping her little ones; 9-year-old Darius and 2-year-old Adaya.

"I'm a single mom so it will help me take better care of my children. Buy them clothes, shoes and stuff for school, things that they need," McKee said.

Baker said with benefits like a 401k match and life insurance, employees like Stacy Stayathome will be making more like $12 or $13 an hour.

"I think it's great," Stayathome said. "Sometimes short-handed, if they need help we volunteer to work time and a half and its good pay."

Baker said, "It will help Mainstreet whether they buy coats or shoes whatever they buy will generate a little more money in community."

But again, at the Hardrock Casino, no official increase yet, but Baker has called on the board of directors to also increase the wage. If they do make the increase, the valet parkers and cashiers bring the total number of Cherokee Nation workers receiving the increase to more like 700 or 800.

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