Representative Kristi Noem today led the U.S. House of Representatives in passing H.R.511, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of 2015.  This bipartisan legislation, which many South Dakota tribes have long supported, would clarify that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) does not have jurisdiction over tribally owned and operated businesses.

“Tribes work daily to overcome high rates of poverty and unemployment.  They continually encourage economic development through self-determination.  The last thing they need when trying to improve economic opportunities for their citizens is a federal bureaucracy meddling with their efforts,” said Noem.  “I’m hopeful today’s legislation will correct the record and reaffirm our commitment to tribal sovereignty.”

In 2004, NLRB unilaterally determined that the National Labor Relations Act applied to tribally owned businesses on tribal lands.  Tribes have expressed great concerns over the impact of this ruling, as it poses a threat to the foundation of Indian law and the principle of tribal sovereignty.  H.R.511 would clarify in law that tribally owned businesses on tribal lands are not subject to the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Act.  As a result, NLRB would not have administration and enforcement powers on reservation land for tribally owned businesses.

Rep. Noem first introduced the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act in 2011.  She re-introduced the legislation in 2013 and helped move the bill forward in the House as a cosponsor this Congress.

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