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Opinion
Rep. Cole: Greatest threat to tribal sovereignty


"I wear a number of hats in my professional life: I am the congressman from the 4th District in Oklahoma, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the only enrolled member of a federally recognized Indian tribe in the U.S. Congress. I spend a lot of time with tribal leaders and tribal people, and I am often asked the following question:

“What is the greatest current threat to tribal governmental sovereignty?”

There is no question in my mind what the answer is, and I respond by saying, “In this Congress and the next, tribes face the greatest threat to their sovereign governments that the U.S. Congress has attempted in decades: the so-called Employee Free Choice Act.”

As Americans, we cherish our right to vote in private when it comes to elections. So, too, it seems to me with the individual right to vote in a union election in private – without some goon looking over our shoulder to make sure we vote “the right way.” This is a part of our democracy and ingrained in our collective sense of being Americans. It is also a fundamental component of our basic labor laws for more than 60 years, a personal freedom exercised by millions of American workers.

Yet that personal freedom is exactly what the Democratic Party leaders and their union boss cohorts want to take from American workers. This ill-conceived proposal represents payback for years of unquestioning loyalty by large union bosses – a proposal that strips union members of their right to have secret-ballot elections to choose their leaders."

Get the Story:
Tom Cole: Tribal governments under fire (Indian Country Today 9/29)

Employee Free Choice Act:
H.R.800 | S.1041