Legislation | Litigation

Saginaw Chippewa Tribe weighs Supreme Court appeal in NLRB case




The Saginaw Chippewa Tribe owns and operates the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Photo from Facebook

Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan has about a month to decide whether to take its National Labor Relations Board case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On July 1, a divided three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort cannot evade an unfair labor practices complaint. By a 2 to 1 vote, the majority rejected the tribe's claim that two treaties protect the facility from the National Labor Relations Act.

The tribe asked the 6th Circuit for a rehearing before an en banc panel of more judges. The request was denied on September 29.

However, the 6th Circuit put a stay on the case in order for the tribe to consider an appeal to the Supreme Court, The Mt. Pleasant Morning Sun reported. The deadline to file a petition comes in late December, the paper said.

More litigation, though, could be avoided if Congress enacts the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act. The bill shields tribes from the jurisdiction of the NLRB by treating them in the same manner as states and local governments, which are exempt from the NLRA.

The House voted 249 to 177 on Tuesday to pass H.R.511. Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Michigan), whose district includes the Saginaw Chippewa Reservation, supported the measure.

“The passage of this legislation simply re-affirms the sovereign rights of tribal governments and ensures that we are treated the same as other governments in this country,” Chief Steve Pego said in a press release issued by Moolenaar's office, the Morning Sun reported. “On behalf of our tribe, we want to thank Congressman Moolenaar for his steadfast support of this legislation.”

The Senate version of the bill is S.248. It cleared the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on June 10 with only one Democrat voicing an objection.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), the chairman of the committee, hopes to bring the bill up for a vote in the chamber in the coming months, a spokesperson told Reuters.

Get the Story:
Congressman supports Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (The Mt. Pleasant Morning Sun 11/20)
House OKs Bill to Exempt Tribal Businesses From Labor Law (Bloomberg BNA 11/18)
House bill would let tribes set own labor rules (AP 11/18)
Obama Choices His Agenda Over American-Indians (The Daily Caller News Foundation 11/18)
House votes to limit federal labor authority over Indian tribes (The Washington Examiner 11/17)
Bill to shield tribal casinos from labor board clears the U.S. House (Reuters 11/17)

6th Circuit Decisions:
Soaring Eagle Casino v. NLRB (July 1, 2015)
NLRB v. Little River Band of Ottawa Indians (June 9, 2015)

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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Lawmakers defy White House on Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (11/18)
White House slams Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act ahead of vote (11/17)
Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act heads toward passage in House (11/16)
House gears up for consideration of Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (10/27)
Key Democrat defends support for Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (10/20)
NCAI pushes for court rehearing in tribal labor sovereignty case (09/01)
Lawmakers advance Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act in House (07/23)
Dennis Whittlesey: Judges disagree on labor law at casinos (07/23)
Lawmakers show support for Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (07/22)
House committee markup for Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (07/20)
Law Article: Major impact with federal labor law at tribal casinos (07/08)
Law Article: Saginaw Chippewa Tribe loses decision in NLRB dispute (07/06)
Brian Pierson: Tribal labor sovereignty could land in Supreme Court (07/03)
Pierre Bergeron: Judges split on federal labor law at tribal casinos (07/03)
Court reluctantly backs NLRB in Saginaw Chippewa Tribe dispute (07/01)