Liz Gray/Managing Editor
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Health is seeking passage of legislation that would exempt them from publishing salaries of all Health employees.
Legislation introduced during an Oct. 13 Health, Education and Welfare Committee meeting amending MCN Code Title 37 Chapter 3 Subsection 301 entitled “Information to be Provided,” was addressed.
The subsection language states within 10 days of February 25, 1989 and on July 31 each year thereafter the Principal Chief shall submit to the National Council a list of all tribal positions and names, grades and step levels of persons in those positions.
The language states the list shall be published in the “Muscogee Nation News,” which is now referred to as the “Mvskoke News.”
Legislation was originally passed in 1982 that required the Principal Chief to submit this information to National Council, which was amended in 1989 to include the information be published in the Muscogee Nation newspaper. The legislation was returned with a veto by Principal Chief at the time Claude Cox, but was overridden by National Council and has been in place as law ever since without any further amendments.
During discussion MCN Secretary of Health Shawn Terry said though he understands the hesitancy about asking for an exemption in publishing salaries of MCN Health employees, the department has started to experience a tremendous shortage of nurses, lab personnel and other specialists in the field due to the COVID pandemic and information being publicly available.
“We have started to experience that our competitors are starting to use this information that they can gather publicly to find out what our people are making and can outbid us.”
MCN Health provided positions, names and compensation for publication for Fiscal Year 2020. However, a health pay schedule scale was not provided showing the monetary range of each position’s salary.
Mvskoke Media sent questions via email to clarify if MCNDH uses the MCN pay scale schedule as well as requesting information about the number of employees lost due to the publication of MCNDH salaries.
MM received the following response from Terry:
“My intentions in the Oct. HEW was to alert to the National Council that posting medical professionals’ salaries could result in other agencies using that information to recruit our nurses and other medical professionals. It was also my intentions to inform the council that there has been a constant struggle to retain nurses due to salary wars.
I am sure this is done primarily through nurses giving various health systems what they are making. The bottom line is we don’t want other people knowing what our medical professionals are making.
I did not intend to imply that there [have] been specific cases of poaching due to any specific report.”
When asked during the committee meeting by Tukvpvtce District Representative and sponsor of the bill Anna Marshall how MCNDH employees felt about the legislation, Terry answered that he had not asked them.
“Honestly, I haven’t done any polling around it,” Terry said. “I’ve never had any employee feel good about what they make out in the newspaper. This really was just as intended as we don’t want our competitors picking off our employees.”
Okmulgee District Representative James Jennings claimed other employees do not appreciate their salaries being posted.
“I’m at the point whether we exempt Health or repeal the whole bill,” Jennings said.
Jennings also stated that with the time allowance of next year’s publication not occurring until July 31, 2022, he would be in favor of postponing the legislation to get more input from other departments.
A motion was then made to postpone the legislation until next HEW Committee meeting on Nov. 10.