Rep. Kristi Noem today led the U.S. House of Representatives in passing provisions to protect tribal sovereignty on labor issues. The 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.

“In 2004, the National Labor Relations Board unilaterally decided that it needed to meddle in the affairs of tribally-owned businesses on tribal lands, threatening the foundation of Indian law, the principle of tribal sovereignty, and the limits that ought to be placed on the federal government,” said Noem. “Subjecting Native American tribes to National Labor Relations Board rules is yet another sign that some still want the federal government to interfere in tribal decision making. I’m proud to see provisions pass the House that withdraw the government’s heavy hand and again reinforce 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.  In 2011, Noem introduced the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act, which 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.

The Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act was included in S.140, which passed the House of Representatives today.  The provision was endorsed by Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association.

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