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Augustine Casino essential workers were presented with a surprise Hero Pay

About 70 Augustine Casino employees were presented with a surprise pay raise to say thank you.

"So the team members were literally in shock when we called them into a meeting and told them they were going to be getting these checks. I don’t think it quite registered initially but once it did, it was amazing to see their reactions. Tears of joy and hugs all around," said Jef Bauer the General Manager of Augustine Casino.

The Augustine tribal council voted to give their essential workers $10 additional pay for each hour worked during the pandemic.

The general manager of Augustine Casino Jef Bauer is thrilled about this reward given to their essential workers.

"The way they look at these employees is legitimately heroes, these employees it's not an acronym when you show up for work when half of America is staying home collecting unemployment and enhanced benefits and you choose to go to work maybe you wouldn't have even made as much as you would staying home. That is kind of the definition of a hero in the tribes eyes and that's why they did this," said Bauer.

Checks presented ranged from several hundred dollars to $19-thousand.

"It’s part of the Recovery Act the ARPA Act that was signed by Joe Biden, the tribe received funds that they could use for various Coronavirus issues and this is what they chose to do, they chose to reward their workers who showed up for work even during a global pandemic," said Bauer.

The one-time incremental paycheck represented retroactive pay for hours these workers logged during the initial 12 months of the pandemic.

“It was basically boiled down to folks who weren’t getting tipped, folks who were on the front lines. Essentially in harms way you know keeping people safe both employees and customers and if you are looking at that group of people again at a minimum wage or slightly above, it was an easy decision to pay these workers,” said Bauer.

“One of the most important things to know is how impactful this size of lump-sum payment is for these group of workers,” said Bauer.

Throughout the pandemic, Augustine Casino has focused on the safety of its guests and workers.

For more information on the tribe, you can visit the

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Melissa Zaremba

Melissa Zaremba joined KESQ News Channel 3 in June 2021. Melissa is a weekend weather anchor and you can even catch her reporting weekdays and covering sports.


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