Workers from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe are finding more money in their pockets due to an increase in minimum wage. The increase in minimum wage, effective March 9th, 2014, includes workers from the tribal casinos, tribal college, housing, and government.
Before, the minimum wage was $9.00 an hour, but it has now been changed to $10.25 an hour. That gives workers an extra $1.25 to keep for their families. Business manager Craig Nason believes it’s a positive step for employees and the community. He said, “It’s a positive step, I believe. Not only for our employees, but for our communities.”
Chairwoman Carri Jones says increasing the minimum wage is simply the right thing to do. “We were still seeing the families and the poverty level,” she said. “So, we wanted to make sure that we took a large enough increase in the minimum wage to actually make it beneficial.”
The bump in pay will also help increase employee benefits. Nason stated, “One of the things I think it’s important to stress here is that full time employees also receive benefits. So the increase comes along with that $10.25 minimum wage.”
Chairwoman Jones also believes that the salary raise will serve as an employee incentive and not reduce the number of jobs. Ultimately, she hopes the increase will help boost the economy.
“It’s also to drive the economy through here into our businesses, our casinos, and also out into the Bemidji community, Grand Rapids,” she said. “Just kind of help the economy with more funding going into it.”