Act to Exempt Tribes From Labor Laws Moves Forward

A bill that would prevent the National Labor Relations Act from being applied to Indian tribes or casinos is moving forward in the House and Senate. H.R. 511, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Bill is supported by most tribes, but opposed by labor unions.

H.R. 511, which would exempt Indian tribes and Indian casinos from the National Labor Relations Act, is moving forward in the House of Representatives.

The bill is known as the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act. The bill’s author Rep. John Kline declared last week, “it’s not about big business versus big labor and it’s not about Republican versus Democrat.” He added, “The bill we are considering today is about whether Native Americans should be free to govern employee-employer relations in a way they determine is best for their workplace.”

The act would undo several rulings by the National Labor Relations Board as well as court rulings that have said that Indian tribes are bound by the NLRA.

Critics of the bill say that supporters are using it as a way to attack the NLRB. They note that most Indian casino employees are non-Indian.

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee previously voted to support the bill. It remains for the full Senate to take it up.