January 10, 2018
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
The U.S. Chamber strongly supports S. 140, which includes the “Tribal
Labor Sovereignty Act of 2017” (TLSA), as a provision. The Chamber urges you
to support S. 140, and will consider including votes on, or in relation to, this
bill in our annual How They Voted Scorecard.
In 1935, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) was enacted to ensure
fair labor practices, but excluded federal, state, and local governmental employers
from its reach. Though the NLRA did not expressly mention Indian tribes let
alone treat Indian tribes as governmental employers, the National Labor Relations
Board (NLRB) respected the sovereign status of tribal governmental employers for
close to seventy years before abruptly abandoning its own precedent and reversing
course with the San Manuel Indian Bingo case in 2004.
Since that decision, the NLRB has been aggressively asserting jurisdiction
over tribal labor practices when the Board determines tribal government employers
are acting in a “commercial” rather than a “governmental” capacity – an analysis it
does not apply to federal, state, or local government employers.
TLSA builds upon a demonstrably successful principle: where tribal
sovereignty is vigorously exercised, economic success follows. This legislation
would prevent an unnecessary and unwarranted overreach by the NLRB into the
sovereign jurisdiction of tribal governments. By amending the NLRA to
specifically exempt tribal governments, it would provide certainty and clarity to
ensure that tribal governmental statutes concerning labor relations would remain
intact. The Chamber believes that this approach would best meet the needs of the
tribes and the American business community more generally.
Senior Vice President
Congressional and Public Affairs