Union won't appeal decision in Chickasaw Nation casino dispute

The WinStar World Casino and Resort, in Thackerville, Oklahoma. Photo from Facebook

The Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma is welcoming a landmark ruling that protects one of its casino from an unfair labor practices complaint.

On June 4, the National Labor Relations Board declined to assert jurisdiction over the WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville. Imposing the National Labor Relations Act on the facility conflicts with the tribe's treaty right to self-governance, the decision stated.

"This case was never so much about the National Labor Relations Act as much as it is about our sovereignty as a tribal nation," Gov. Bill Anoatubby told The Oklahoman. "We are pleased that the board understood that fact and affirmed that the Chickasaw Nation's treaties remain the bedrock on which our legal relationship with the United States stands."

The union that filed the complaint could appeal the decision in the federal courts. But that won't be happening, effectively securing the tribe's victory.

"I’m disappointed in the decision, but I certainly respect the process," Ron Cobb, the president and business manager of the Teamsters Local Union 886, told the paper.

The NLRB asserted jurisdiction over Indian Country for the first time in an unprecedented 2004 ruling that withstood a court challenge. Since then, nearly every administrative proceeding has gone against tribes -- except for the Chickasaw Nation.

Earlier this week, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the NLRB in a union complaint affecting the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians in Michigan. The conflicts have fueled debate over S.248, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act, a bill that shields tribes from the NLRA.

"What's developing is a split in the circuits. It makes it ripe for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court," Michael Burrage, an attorney who represents the Chickasaw Nation, told the Oklahoman.

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee approved the bill at a business meeting on Wednesday. Passage in the Senate is uncertain.

Get the Story:
Board dismisses complaint against tribe at OK casino (The Oklahoman 6/12)

Also Today:
Catherine F. Munson and Mark H. Reeves: Divided Sixth Circuit panel upholds NLRB jurisdiction to enforce NLRA against tribes even when the act conflicts with tribal employment laws (Lexology 6/10)

National Labor Relations Board Decisions:
June 4, 2015 | July 12, 2013

Committee Notices:
Business Meeting to consider S. 248 (June 10, 2015)
Legislative Hearing on S. 248, the "Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of 2015" (April 29, 2015)

From the Indianz.Com Archive:
Tribal labor law rider killed by wide margin in House (6/27)
Federal labor board expands jurisdiction over tribes (6/4)

Related Stories
Senate committee approves bill to shield tribal casinos from NLRB (6/11)
Appeals court sides with NLRB in Little River Band gaming case (6/10)
Senate committee takes up bill to shield tribal casinos from NLRB (06/09)
Chickasaw Nation wins major ruling affecting labor law at casino (06/05)
NLRB won't take stance on tribal labor bill that affects casinos (04/30)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee sets hearing on labor measure (04/27)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee takes up tribal labor measure (4/16)
Supreme Court ruling affects NLRB proceedings at tribal casinos (08/07)

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