Saginaw Chippewa Appeals NLRB Pro-Union Ruling


le 22/11/2014 à 06:48


In an ongoing battle between tribal sovereignty and federal labor law, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe is challenging the National Labor Relations Board’s claim that it has jurisdiction over the tribe’s employees at Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort. The case could impact all of Indian country.

On Oct 27 the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a decision ordering the tribe to rehire an employee who had been fired for union organizing, give her four years of back pay, and post notices in the workplace admitting it had violated federal labor law and reiterating employees’ rights to unionize. The board claims jurisdiction over the employees because it claims, among other things, that the tribe is engaged in interstate commerce.

The tribe does not acknowledge the board’s authority and refuses to abide by the order, Frank Cloutier, the tribe’s spokesman and an enrolled member, told ICTMN. “The tribe has filed an appeal in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and that case is currently pending,” Cloutier said. The case could ultimately end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, he said.

The Saginaw Chippewa position, which is shared by many tribes throughout the country, is that the federal law that allows for union organizing – the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) – does not apply to federally recognized Indian tribes or their gaming facilities.

“The tribe’s position rests on two legal principles: one, that the federal law does not apply to state governments and Indian tribes are not mentioned at all in the law; and two, that the application of the federal law to the tribe would violate the tribe’s rights under its treaties of 1855 and 1864,” Cloutier said.


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