Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker signed an executive order Friday raising the Cherokee Nation's minimum wage to $9.50 an hour over the next two years.
In a news release, the tribe said the current Cherokee Nation minimum wage stands at $9 per hour, "already well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour."
"The Cherokee Nation's mission is to be the employer of choice in northeast Oklahoma," said Principal Chief Bill John Baker.
"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. It will also allow our employees more discretionary spending, which boosts the local economy."
Baker said nearly 400 Cherokee Nation employees will see a pay increase resulting in more than $1,000 per year. Employees with more than one year of service earning minimum wage will jump to $9.50 per hour on October 1, 2014, the first day of fiscal year 2015. Workers with less than one year of service will see a staggered increase over the fiscal year.
He said the wage increase is possible due to strong financial stewardship by the Cherokee Nation.
"Even though we've had to tighten our belts due to federal sequestration, this is the right thing to do," Baker said.
"I commend our staff at Cherokee Nation for their responsible budgeting, which has made it possible to help so many of their fellow employees."
The release states the wage increase will apply to all Cherokee Nation government employees. It goes on to say Cherokee Nation Businesses and its subsidiaries are not included at this time, but Baker called on the CNB board to consider following suit.