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Congressman Bobby Scott

Representing the 3rd District of Virginia

Scott Statement on Passage of Anti-Worker Bill

January 11, 2018
Press Release
Republicans Pass Poison Pill Bill that Strips Workers of their Rights at Tribal Commercial Enterprises

As originally released by the Committee on Education and the Workforce, Democrats

WASHINGTON, DC – Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03) released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed S. 140 [239 to 173]. Hidden in the package of non-controversial tribal water supply and lands legislation, was the poison pill H.R. 986, the so-called “Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act.”

“The so-called ‘Tribal Sovereignty Act’ strips hundreds of thousands of workers employed at Indian-owned enterprises—such as casinos, hotels, and mines—of their voice in the workplace and the protections under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). At issue in this bill are two solemn and deeply rooted principles. The first is the rights of Indian tribes as distinct, independent political communities. The second is the rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively. Rather than attempting to balance these important principles, S. 140 simply strips workers’ of their rights to secure better wages and benefits.

“Historically, both Democratic and Republican administrations have insisted that our trading partners abide by and enforce fundamental labor rights, and Congress has repeatedly ratified these obligations in free trade agreements. But today, the House voted on a bill that does just the opposite for all workers employed at tribal enterprises—including the 75 percent of tribal gaming employees who are not even members of the Tribe.

“Longstanding legal precedent has long applied employment laws to tribal commercial enterprises—including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). But this legislation singled out the NLRA. There is no principled basis for excluding hundreds of thousands of workers from coverage under our nation’s labor laws just because they work in commercial enterprises on tribal lands. If the ‘Tribal Sovereignty Act’ became law, it would be the first rollback to workers’ rights under federal labor law in over 70 years.”   

To read more from organizations opposing the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of A017, click here