House Passes H.R. 511, Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act >>

November 18th, 2015

House Passes H.R. 511, Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to treat Indian tribes as governments for purposes of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). H.R. 511, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (TLSA), would amend the NLRA to include Indian tribes and tribally owned enterprises located on Indian lands within the Act’s governmental exemption.

The NLRA’s current government exemption covers all governments except for Indian tribes. The exemption applies to commercial enterprises owned and operated by the United States, state governments, political subdivisions of states (counties, cities, etc.), the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories and possessions.

The 249 – 177 vote was strongly bipartisan. Twenty-four (24) Democrats joined 225 Republicans, voting in favor the measure, while 159 Democrats and 18 Republicans voted against the bill.

If enacted, the TLSA will reverse a 2004 ruling of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that itself reversed decades of its own precedent. In a 1976 labor dispute involving the White Mountain Apache Timber Company, the Board found that Indian tribes and tribally owned enterprises do fall within the NLRA’s government exemption.

The bill now moves to the Senate. The Obama Administration issued a Statement of Administrative Policy (SAP), stating that it “cannot support H.R. 511 … as currently drafted.” While the SAP did not issue a veto threat, it does give Senators cover to vote against the bill, making Indian Country’s climb to passage steeper.

Comments Off on House Passes H.R. 511, Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act

Comments are closed.