Council approves TERO plan

Tribal Council last week adopted the Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance, or TERO.

This is an important job creation program that applies on the reservation, and within a 60-mile radius of the reservation boundary.

The on-reservation aspect applies to construction projects including work done by the tribal enterprises.

The TERO officer will work with the contractors and subcontractors, ensuring tribal member access to the employment opportunities.

Another aspect of TERO applies to the area around the reservation. Warm Springs Ventures interim executive director Don Sampson has been working with the Oregon Department of Transportation on a memorandum of understanding.

ODOT receives federal transportation funding, and tribal members should have fair access to construction work made possible by this funding, Sampson said. The 60-mile radius would bring in areas from Bend toward The Dalles.

“TERO allows tribal businesses and individuals a preference in hiring,” Sampson said. “That is a huge opportunity that we’ve been missing.”

The Tribal Council was unanimous in its support for this program. The Umatilla and Grand Ronde have TERO programs. “It’s something we should have done a decade ago,” Councilman Carlos Smith said.

The Warm Springs TERO radius will be the biggest in the state, and one of the biggest in the U.S., Sampson said.

With the ordinance in place, the next step is to create a five-member TERO commission, and hire a TERO director. The director position could be funded for two years through a grant Sampson said.

The TERO program will involve training the local workforce in the kinds of jobs that will become available. Warm Springs Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Community Action Team will be partners in this aspect of the program, Sampson said.