Sault Tribe pushes for passage of Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act


Aaron Payment, the chairman of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians speaks at the White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, D.C, on November 5, 2015. Still image from White House / YouTube

The leader of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians is calling on President Barack Obama to support the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act even though his administration officially opposes it.

The bill treats tribes in the same manner as states and local governments under the National Labor Relations Act. Despite widespread support in Indian Country, the White House Office of Management and Budget issued a statement of administration policy against H.R.511, the version of the bill that passed the House on November 17.

“Actions to oppose this legislation will set us back to the 1950s termination era,” said Payment.

Payment spoke at the White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this month and otherwise praised Obama for moving Indian Country "light years forward." He said the president needs to extend his favorable policies to the labor law arena.


Indianz.Com SoundCloud: Aaron Payment at the White House Tribal Nations Conference on November 5, 2015

“Now that it really matters, we are looking to his continued leadership and support of Indian Country," Payment said.

The Senate version of the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act is S.248. The bill cleared the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on June 10 with one Democrat voicing an objection.

The report accompanying the bill was finalized in September and the bill is ready for action of the floor. A vote hasn't been scheduled but Payment said he would lobby for passage.

“I am convinced that, upon reflection, our friends in Congress, my senators – Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters — and President Obama, will do the right thing by supporting the recognition of sovereignty,” said Payment, referring to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) and Sen. Gary Stevens (D-Michigan).

“After all, we are not 'kinda' sovereign, sometimes sovereign, sovereign out of political expediency or only during Native American month. We either are or we are not sovereign," Payment added.

From the Indianz.Com Archive:
Tribal labor law rider killed by wide margin in House (June 27, 2005)
NCAI between 'rock and a hard place' on labor rider (September 13, 2004)
Tribal labor amendment fails in House vote (September 13, 2004)
Federal labor board expands jurisdiction over tribes (June 4, 2004)

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Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act heads toward passage in House (11/16)
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Brian Patterson: Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act restores our rights (06/19)
Debate on Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act moves to House panel (06/17)
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