Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-New Mexico) is seen on a television screen in the Navajo Nation Washington Office in Washington, D.C., in 2011. Photo: NNWO
Legislation

Union slams Democrats who supported Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act

A prominent labor union plans to punish Democrats who voted for a bill that exempts tribes and their enterprises from federal labor law.

UNITE HERE President D. Taylor told Bloomberg Law that the group won't financially support the 23 Democrats who backed the bill. The union believes the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act "guts" the rights of tribal casino employees.

“So it boggles the mind that Democratic House Campaign Chairman Luján and 22 additional so-called ‘progressive’ Democrats voted to strip existing federal labor rights of American workers and current UNITE HERE members with their support of the Tribal Gaming bill,” Taylor was quoting as saying, referring to Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-New Mexico) and the other Democrats.

The Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act was introduced in the 115th Congress as H.R. 986. Though a prior version passed the House by a large margin, Republican leaders decided to attach it to S.140, an unrelated and non-controversial Indian bill.

It was S.140 which passed the House on January 10, with support from the 23 Democrats, plus 216 Republicans. The bill also includes provisions that benefit two Pueblo tribes in Luján's district.

S.140 previously cleared the Senate by unanimous consent. Since the text of the bill was changed in the House, it must be sent back to the Senate for another vote.

Prospects of passage in the Senate are uncertain. But The Washington Examiner reported that some Democrats stand ready to vote in favor of the revised S.140, with action being scheduled to coincide with an upcoming meeting of the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, D.C.

For decades, tribes didn't have to worry about the National Labor Relations Act. But in 2004, the National Labor Relations Board said tribal businesses -- especially casinos -- could be subjected to the law because they employ non-Indians and cater to non-Indians.

Since then, the courts have consistently upheld the NLRB's approach so tribes have been asking Congress for parity, noting that states and local governments are able to adopt and follow their own labor laws.

Read More on the Story:
Union Vows No Contributions to Dems Supporting Tribal Labor Bill (Bloomberg Law / Bloomberg BNA January 23, 2018)

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 10, 2004)
Federal labor board expands jurisdiction over tribes (June 4, 2004)

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