California Tribes Top Other States in Wages, Benefits, UNLV Study Shows

Press Release
For Immediate Release


California Tribes Top Other States in Wages, Benefits, UNLV Study Shows

March 28, 2003

Sacramento, CA—Employees at California tribal government gaming operations earn substantially higher wages and benefits than workers at other tribal casinos in the United States, a 2002 survey by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas shows. Executive salaries and hourly wages for California tribal casinos employees were substantially higher in 83 of 110 job classifications, according to the 2002 Indian Gaming Wage Survey. Health, life insurance and other benefits offered by California tribes also were equal or better than tribal casinos in other states, according to the UNLV study of 59 tribal gaming operations. Sixteen of the tribal operations are in California with others in Arizona, New Mexico, Michigan, Minnesota and in the Eastern United States. “This independent survey of tribal gaming across the country confirms that tribal governments here in California appreciate their workers, and treat them well,” said Brenda Soulliere, chairwoman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association. “Not only is tribal government gaming the fastest growing industry in California in terms of job creation, but these are quality jobs that provide workers with excellent pay and benefits.” The survey shows that employees in mid-management and supervisory positions generally earn more than $50,000 a year. Housekeepers and other low-skilled workers earn far more in California than other states, the survey shows. Cocktail and food servers and bartenders for tribal casinos earn more than the state and federal minimum wage, according to the survey. Tip workers in casino jobs, particularly dealers, can earn $50,000 or more a year. The survey shows that all but two of 14 California tribal casinos responding to the 2002 survey provide health, dental and vision insurance. Tribal leaders told CNIGA that all tribal governments now provide insurance coverage. (more) Forty percent of California casinos responding to the survey said they provide insurance to part-time workers, a business practice that is extremely rare. Seventeen percent offer indemnity plans; 67 percent offer PPO plans; 25 percent offer POS plans; and 42 percent offer HMO plans. Premium costs are not disclosed in the UNLV study. Employees pay from no cost to 20 percent of the insurance premiums, the study shows. Dependent coverage range from no cost to employees to 60 percent of the premium. All the tribes offer dental coverage and 92 percent offer vision coverage. “In terms of the percentages (of premiums paid by the tribal governments), the figures stack up very, very well for the tribes,” says Rick Salinas, assistant general manager for the Barona Valley Ranch Resort and Casino near San Diego. “If you were to look at what percentage of the premium the employee is paying, both in Northern and Southern California, we as an industry compare very, very well to other businesses. “The employee will get as good a benefits package with the tribal governments as they would get at a major, upscale hotel company,” Salinas said. “I’m looking at Marriott, Hyatt, Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton. I’m talking high end, respected chains that have a good product. “The people who represent our health care providers consistently tell us that we are very generous not only in our plan design – there are very few restrictions in our plan – but in what we ask our employees to contribute.” Chairman Mark Macarro of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, operators of the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, testified at the hearing that the annual payroll for some 2,800 gaming employees exceeds $60 million. A summary of the UNLV study can be obtained at CNIGA offices, 1215 K Street, Sacramento. The complete study can be obtained from Mary Ann McDaniel, wage survey coordinator, UNLV Hospitality Research and Development Center, 702-895-3903.

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