Several members of the US Senate are supporting an amendment that would see the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act included as part of an upcoming must-pass defense measure.
The amendment, which is known as S248, was introduced by Kansas Republican Jerry Moran on May 19 and, if included and subsequently passed, would exempt tribes and their casinos from the National Labor Relations Act and treat them in a manner similar to states and the federal government.
Moran is a member of the Senate Committee On Indian Affairs and this body earlier advanced the amendment to the Senate floor for potential inclusion in S2943, the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2017.
Despite having nine Republican co-sponsors, Moran’s amendment is one of hundreds that have so far been filed and also faces opposition from the administration of President Barack Obama as well as most Democrats and numerous labor unions. However, the measure could be put up for a vote as soon as this week and benefit from the Republican’s holding 54% of the Senate’s seats.
The White House has been opposed to the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act ever since the US House Of Representatives passed it last year. It stated that only tribes that have negotiated Class III gaming compacts and enacted laws to protect the rights of their workers should be exempt from the National Labor Relations Act.
“It is thus possible to protect both tribal sovereignty and workers’ rights and the administration can only support approaches that accomplish that result,” read a statement from the Office Of Management And Budget. “Therefore, the administration can support a bill that recognizes tribal sovereignty in formulating labor relations law and exempts tribes from the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board only if the tribes adopt labor standards and procedures applicable to tribally-owned and operated commercial enterprises reasonably equivalent to those in the National Labor Relations Act.”
Former Colorado US Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell was one of the first to suggest the potential inclusion of the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act in the upcoming defense bill and he used a recent article in Indian Country Today to urge Senators to support Moran’s effort as a way to “provide parity for tribal governments”.
“It is time for Congress to do what it should have done in 2004 and that is to provide corrective guidance to the National Labor Relations Act and provide parity to tribal governments,” wrote Nighthorse Campbell, whose lobbying and policy firm represents the National Indian Gaming Association according to the Center For Responsive Politics. “Congress should pass and the President should sign the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act.”