Sonoma County (California) Indian Tribe Shares the Wealth With Employees

by Lou on March 24, 2008

The Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians, one of Sonoma County’s largest employers with 826 employees, shared the wealth when they received a $220,831 reimbursement check from their workers compensation insurer for their superior workplace safety record.

As a sovereign nation, the Tribe has a workers compensation ordinance that mirrors the California workers comp statute. For 2005-2006 the Tribe’s claims were 75 percent less than the industry average, triggering the reimbursement.

The Tribe learned of its reimbursement just as it learned that health care costs for its employees would rise significantly beginning April 1, 2008. Smith’s benefits manager, Kim Nelson, recommended that the savings be passed on to the workers themselves to offset the higher healthcare insurance premiums, and the Tribe’s Board of Directors immediately agreed.

“We are pleased to be able to do this for our employees, including 97 employees who are Tribal Members,” said Harvey Hopkins, Chair of the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians. “Their hard work makes our economic development programs successful, and those programs fund the education, health, and housing programs for the entire Tribe.”

With all the rancor surrounding Indian gaming in California, this kind of feel-good story shows everyone he benefits of responsible employers sharing the benefits with their employees.

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