Opinion: NLRB takes away tribal sovereignty with 2004 decision

"In 2004, largely under the mainstream media radar, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) dispossessed Native Americans. But this time, it was not their lands that were being taken away—it was their sovereignty.

It all began with Big Labor. In an effort to increase its declining membership, Big Labor saw the casinos operated by the Indian tribes on their reservations as an attractive organizing opportunity. If unionizing the casinos required undermining their sovereignty, so be it.

The Supreme Court may soon be asked to decide whether this was legal.

For decades, the Board recognized the unique sovereign status of Indian tribes to regulate themselves and declined to assert jurisdiction over tribal business enterprises located on the reservation. The NLRB said it was “clear that individual Indians and Indian tribal governments, at least on reservation lands, are generally free from state or even in most instances federal intervention, unless Congress has specifically provided to the contrary.”

What was once “clear” to the Board then became blurred by Native American prosperity."

Get the Story:
Fred Wszolek: NLRB Threatens Native Sovereignty (Indian Country Today 10/4)

Related Stories:
Federal labor board expands jurisdiction over tribes (6/4)

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