Tribal Employment Rights Office expected to help create jobs

SUBMITTED PHOTO - New Warm Springs TERO director, Mary Sando-Emhoolah, visits with Lee Adolf, national president of the Council for Tribal Employment Rights.The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs have added another tool to their toolbox when it comes to the challenge of new jobs creation for their nation.

Warm Springs has established a new TERO or Tribal Employment Rights Office, located on the reservation at the Ventures/Construction Office.

The office was established through the support of the Warm Springs Tribal Council, which passed the TERO ordinance earlier this year.

"The Warm Springs Tribal Council is in support of the establishment of a TERO office in Warm Springs," said Warm Springs Tribal Council Chairman Eugene Greene Jr. "We see the inherent value to our community and surrounding communities through the partnerships we will develop through our TERO projects."

TERO ordinances require that all construction employers, including Oregon Department of Transportation contractors who are engaged in operating a business on or near reservations, give preference to qualified Native Americans in aspects of employment, training, promotion, contracting, subcontracting and other business activities. TERO offices are established and empowered to monitor and enforce the requirements of the Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance.

The tribes' authority to enact and enforce Indian/Native employment preference law is grounded in its sovereign status. Inherent sovereign powers derive from the principle that certain powers do not necessarily come from delegated powers granted by express acts of Congress, but are inherent powers of a limited sovereign that have never been taken away.

Tribes have a basic relationship with the federal government as sovereign powers recognized in both treaties and federal statutes. The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs are an original treaty tribe in the state of Oregon.

There are three vital characteristics of TERO:

1) TERO is a true act of self-determination. The decision to enact a tribal employment rights ordinance is based on each individual tribe’s needs and priorities.

2) TERO programs are action orientated. TERO offices are a no-nonsense, hands on, result-orientated and process driven compliance programs.

3) TEROs are systematically structured programs. Key elements of the structure include:

• Legal framework: TERO utilizes a sound and comprehensive framework that encompasses the use of tribal, federal, contract and where applicable, state employment law.

• Administrative structure: TERO programs have a well-developed administrative structure which utilizes a thorough enforcement process.

• Synergistic partnering: TERO programs apply synergistic partnering principles in relations that benefit both parties.

The tribes have hired Mary Sando-Emhoolah as their first TERO director. She and her husband, Mike, own Emhoolah Trucking and have been in business since 1997.

They work on construction projects around the state and have worked through both the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde TERO offices.

“I am excited that Warm Springs is establishing a TERO office," said Sando-Emhoolah. "I see the benefits for local training, employment, contracting/subcontracting and creating long-term positive working relationships with local contractors and all that will be involved with our TERO office."

Sando-Emhoolah is a Warm Springs tribal member and original shareholder of Chugach, Alaska.

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