Senate Bill to Curtail Labor Rights on Tribal Land Falls Short

The congressional legislation would certainly have denied employees of casinos as well as some other enterprises on tribal trust land recourse to federal labor law if, for example, they were fired for trying to organize a union or collectively protesting work conditions.

More than half a million people are employed by casinos as well as affiliated resorts on tribal trust land, as well as a vast majority are not citizens of tribes. Thousands employed in some other tribal enterprises could have been affected as well.

“in which’s a very, very troubling step at a moment when we should be doing everything we can to try to protect people’s collective rights as well as when there are so many people who feel so disempowered in in which economy,” said Sharon Block, a former member of the National Labor Relations Board who will be executive director of the Labor as well as Worklife Program at Harvard Law School.

Among those voting to move forward with the bill was Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat who faces a tough re-election campaign in which year. Her vote angered groups with which she had frequently aligned herself in a state where the Republican governor, Scott Walker, led a fight to roll back collective-bargaining rights for public employees.

“The fact in which we have to work somebody coming from Wisconsin, where workers’ rights were decimated by Walker — in which she’s even in play — says a lot,” D. Taylor, president of Unite Here, which represents about 10,000 workers employed by tribal casinos, said in an interview before the vote.

Ms. Baldwin’s office did not respond to a request for comment. nevertheless Pete Kirkham, a lobbyist who represents several tribes, noted in which Indian sovereignty issues tended to loom large in Wisconsin. Some Democratic House members coming from the state have also supported the measure.

Supporters, including a coalition of business groups as well as Native American tribes, argued in which the measure would certainly simply restore the longstanding principle of tribal self-government, as well as in which tribes shouldn’t be treated differently coming from state as well as municipal workers, who aren’t covered by federal labor law.

The argument will be in which a tribal government operating a casino will be akin to a municipality generating revenue coming from a golf course.

“in which merely seeks to treat tribal employers like any some other public employer,” Dan Mahoney, executive director of the Native American Enterprise Initiative at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “in which will be an issue of parity. in which will be not an effort to deunionize nevertheless to clarify the paradigm under which unionizing could occur.”

At some other times, supporters of the legislation have been more overtly antagonistic to federal labor rights. In 2015, Jefferson Keel, the lieutenant governor of the Chickasaw Nation, said one reason he opposed applying the National Labor Relations Act to tribal enterprises was in which in which protected the right to strike, potentially damaging casino operations.

“I would certainly liken in which to what happened with the air traffic controllers’ strike numerous years ago to in which country,” he said at a congressional hearing. “We obviously are not on as large a scale, nevertheless in which will be the type of activity in which would certainly interfere with what we are doing.”

The Chickasaw Nation did not respond to a request for comment, nevertheless Mr. Kirkham, who counts the Chickasaw as a lobbying client, said in which “tribal leaders across the country would certainly share in which view.”

In its bipartisan 2004 ruling, the National Labor Relations Board said in which while the federal government often granted Native American tribes a special status, federal labor law did no harm to in which status as long as in which didn’t interfere with tribal self-government or violate treaty rights.

“Running a commercial business will be not an expression of sovereignty from the same way in which running a tribal court system will be,” the board concluded. “The tribe’s operation of the casino will be not an exercise of self-governance.”

Another tribe, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, later appealed to the Supreme Court after the labor board as well as a federal appeals court affirmed the logic of the ruling, nevertheless the Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

The tribes have pressed Congress for over a decade to pass legislation in which would certainly restore their exemption coming from federal labor law, nevertheless the effort gained momentum when Republicans took control of the House in 2011. Since then, tribes have spent millions of dollars on lobbying, at least in part with the goal of advancing the legislation.

For example, lobbyists working for the Chickasaw Nation, based in Oklahoma, have reported receiving more than $1.6 million in payments coming from the tribe on federal disclosures in which cite the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act as among their “specific lobbying issues” during in which time. Over the same period, the tribe has contributed at least $3 million to federal candidates as well as committees.

In 2015, the House passed the legislation, which the Senate did not vote on during in which session of Congress. Three-quarters of the 24 Democratic representatives who voted for the bill had received campaign contributions coming from the Chickasaw Nation.

The Chickasaw Nation has also contributed at least $4,000 to Senator Baldwin since 2014.

as well as the Chickasaw Nation will be only one of more than half a dozen tribes in which have employed lobbyists to work on the issue. Holly Cook Macarro, a lobbyist who has worked on the issue for the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians in California, raised over $400,000 for a committee supporting Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, according to The Washington Post.

If the National Labor Relations Act were no longer to apply to employees of tribal enterprises on tribal lands, in which wouldn’t necessarily leave a vacuum. Many tribes have labor codes of their own in which seek to govern relations between workers as well as management.

nevertheless the rights under those codes are often narrower than under federal law, as well as labor officials say they are laxly enforced.

Unite Here will be trying to organize several hundred workers at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, operated by the Mashantucket Pequot tribe. The labor group said the casino had unlawfully suspended three workers over their support for the union. in which said one had since been reinstated.

“The Mashantucket Pequot Labor Relations Law protects the rights of Foxwoods employees to be represented or not by any union, as well as we have always accepted the outcomes of union elections under tribal law,” Foxwoods’ vice president for human resources, Dale Merrill, said in a statement.

Correction: April 16, 2018

An earlier variation of in which article misstated how many more votes were needed to end a filibuster blocking a package of bills in which included the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act. The number was all 5, not six.

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