This installment of The Tribes In The Media is an Observer-Dispatch article on the Oneida Indian Nation's decision to give out over $5 million in bonuses to its employees.
Oneida Nation gives out $5.1M in bonuses
By Rebecca Croniser
November 27, 2009
Despite an economic downturn that hit many area businesses hard, the Oneida Indian Nation this week awarded $5.1 million in bonuses to most of its 4,800 employees.
The bonuses topped last year’s by about $400,000 and are believed to be the most the Nation has ever distributed, said Dana Sovocool, the Nation’s vice president of human resources.
The funds were distributed to about 90 percent of employees across all of the Nation’s business divisions, including Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, SavOn convenience stores and video and animation company Four Directions Productions.
Nation officials said their enterprises — including Turning Stone Resort and Casino — performed exceedingly well this year.
Officials declined to release revenue figures, but Sovocool said the bonuses are “based on the Nation’s performance.”
“Knowing we were facing a troubled economy, we took careful measures to manage the various businesses,” Sovocool said.
In 2008, the Nation — the largest employer in Oneida and Madison counties — laid off an estimated 100 employees in an attempt to avoid troubles seen at other casinos. Spokesman Mark Emery said Friday that about half of those laid off have been hired back.
Sovocool said the cuts were designed not to take away from customer service or quality.
“We’ve focused more heavily than ever on service,” he said.
He said that approach has paid off with more visitors this year than last year, though specific numbers were not available.
The Nation has been expanding its enterprises lately. Last year, it purchased an Erie County cigarette plant. Employees of the cigarette plant, described as its own entity, were not included in the bonuses.
Emery said no more additions are on the immediate horizon.
“Right now the focus is on what the Nation already has,” he said.
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