“If they have a desire or an interest to be involved in the Council level, then they certainly have that opportunity and they shouldn’t be discouraged from that.” — MCN Human Resources Manager Dr. Dean Hughes
Employees maintain benefits while running for office
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — Muscogee (Creek) Nation Human Resources Manager Dr. Dean Hughes discussed the process of employees running for MCN office.
Hughes said an employee running for office needs to immediately notify the MCN Election Board that they are an employee.
He said the next step is to have the employee meet with the labor relation’s representative to clearly delineate what they can and cannot do regarding their leave of absence.
“And make them aware that once they file they’re going to have to exit that position immediately until that day following either the general or the run off election, wherever they may be elected or eliminated,” Hughes said.
According to MCN Code Annotated Title 19 sub-section 5-102, which was amended July 6, 2015 to read, ‘immediately after filing for candidacy shall take a leave of absence from employment with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, including a corporation, chartered Community Board and employees, agency or other entity which is at least fifty-one percent owned by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
‘Immediately after an employee files for candidacy, the appropriate Muscogee (Creek) Nation personnel office shall place the employee on leave status and such leave shall be paid in the event the candidate has accrued annual leave, compensatory time or personal days, should the candidate choose to utilize paid leave. After the exhaustion of any paid leave or should the candidate choose not to utilize any paid leave or if the candidate has no leave, the candidate shall be placed on unpaid leave until the first working day after the primary election, or in the event the employee is in a run-off, until the first official working day after the general election.’
He said since employees have to exit their positions without pay and they have the option to either use their annual leave or personal leave during their campaign.
Hughes said employees cannot use sick leave or donated sick leave from other employees.
“The law does not speak to sick leave and so that would extend to donated sick,” he said.
Hughes said the employee does not have to use any of their leave at all if they do not want to.
The position is held for the employee until they either win or lose the election.
“They may have to replace someone temporarily to do that job if it’s a critical position,” Hughes said.
He added that employees will still maintain all of their employee benefits regardless of foregoing a paycheck.
According to MCNCA Title 37 sub-section 6-102, ‘An employee or officer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, its agencies, authorities
or boards, who shall use his or her position of authority to require another
employee or officer to take part in a political campaign or in any way be active
or participate in any political contest or any election in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by confinement in jail for a
period not to exceed sixty (60) days, or a fine of not more than five thousand
dollars ($5,000), or by both such confinement and fine.’
Hughes commented on campaigning on tribal property.
“I think our laws do not allow for campaigning on the Nation’s property, so as an employee it would be impossible for them not to do some campaigning if they’re at work everyday,” he said.
Hughes believes the rationale behind the law makes sense.
“If they have a desire or an interest to be involved in the Council level, then they certainly have that opportunity and they shouldn’t be discouraged from that,” he said.
Hughes said there is currently one employee running for a National Council Seat B.